Teresa Stratas Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Awardee
On the occasion of a festival and conference celebrating the centenary of Lotte Lenya’s birth and the arrival at the Eastman School of Music of Weill’s holograph scores of works published by Universal Edition, the third and fourth Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Awards were bestowed upon world-renowned singer Teresa Stratas and Lys Symonette, Vice-President of the Kurt Weill Foundation since 1981. At a dinner held at the University Club in Rochester, New York on 13 November 1998, KWF president Kim H. Kowalke made the presentation of the engraved Steuben glass sculptures to each honoree.
After hearing Teresa Stratas (1938- ) sing Jenny in the landmark 1979 premiere of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the Metropolitan Opera, Lenya proclaimed her “my dream Jenny.” At a tribute to Weill at the Whitney Museum in January 1980, Stratas first sang a collection of the unpublished songs later included on her acclaimed recording, “The Unknown Kurt Weill” (Nonesuch). She went on to record “Stratas Sings Weill” (a second album of favorite Weill songs) and Die sieben Todsünden. Her performances of “Surabaya Johnny” and “Youkali” were featured in Rhombus Media’s award-winning film September Songs. During the festival, Stratas served on the jury for the first Lotte Lenya Competition; she would do so again on nine subsequent occasions. It remains the only competition she agreed to adjudicate, and her advocacy and embodiment of its values account in large part for its rapid growth and global expansion.