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The Kurt Weill Edition


Series I, Volume 16: Lady in the Dark (2017)

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  • Pages

    748 pp (main volume [2 vols.])
    137 pp (critical report)

  • ISBN


  • Price

    $475 (subscribers)
    $695 (non-subscribers)

A Musical Play in Two Acts
Book by Moss Hart
Music and Lyrics by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin
Edited by bruce d. mcclung and Elmar Juchem


Two fateful meetings in November 1939 between Kurt Weill and Moss Hart led inexorably to a new kind of Broadway musical, the brainchild of three Broadway legends (lyricist Ira Gershwin was the third) put on stage by an even more imposing roster of talent—the opening-night cast included Gertrude Lawrence, Danny Kaye, Victor Mature, Bert Lytell, Natalie Schaefer, and MacDonald Carey—from producer Sam Harris on down. The new show, innovative both in form and subject matter, used psychoanalysis as the primary plot driver and staged the protagonist’s spectacular dreams as one-act operas, giving audiences glimpses of the glamorous worlds of fashion and publishing as well as the intimacies of a psychiatrist’s office. Lady in the Dark landed like a bombshell on Broadway in January 1941. Through patient and thorough examination of a wealth of archival and other unpublished sources, the editors present a critical edition of the show, with score, book and lyrics very close to what hit the boards in 1941.

The libretto (Random House) and vocal score (Chappell) were published at the time, but neither one hewed very closely to the stage script. (Hart’s edition of the libretto made no effort to incorporate improvements introduced during rehearsals and tryouts.) Subsequent performing editions stuck with the published version—longer, slower, and less theatrically effective—and the stage script faded from memory. Editors bruce d. mcclung and Elmar Juchem have brought it back in an edition complete with cut numbers and musical alternatives, reconstructed both from interviews with the original participants and archival sources excavated from repositories in New York and elsewhere. The score presented problems of its own, as the editors had to glean alterations made during rehearsals and the Broadway run from confusing (in some cases, all but indecipherable) instrumental parts. The result: a shorter, tighter show that makes it plain how Lady in the Dark set Broadway on its ear.

We have come to expect extensive research and thoughtful evaluation of source material from the Kurt Weill Edition, as well as attention to detail and beautiful engraving and printing. The new volume exhibits the extensive research and thoughtful evaluation of source material characteristic of all volumes of the Kurt Weill Edition. The score and dialogue (along with cut material and commentary) are presented in a generous two-volume format, with a separate Critical Report containing source descriptions and a full record of editorial decisions. Few volumes, in this series or any other, have done so much to reshape our understanding of a Broadway classic, or to give today’s theaters incentive to revisit it.

bruce d. mcclung, Thomas James Kelly Professor of Music at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, is the world’s foremost authority on Lady in the Dark, having published the definitive Lady in the Dark: Biography of a Musical (Oxford, 2007), a volume that won both an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award and the 2007 Kurt Weill Prize. Elmar Juchem is the Managing Editor of the Kurt Weill Edition.

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