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1932-1950: What Next?

11 December 1932: Plays Jessie in a performance of Mahagonny Songspiel augmented with four numbers from the opera at La Sérénade in Paris.

Early 1933: Begins divorce proceedings against Weill in Germany. Lenya and Weill still care for each other, and the break-up frees Lenya to try to get Weill’s money and assets out of Germany. Years later, Lenya remarked that getting the divorce was easy; all she had to do was say she didn’t want to be married to a Jew any more and the authorities accepted it without hesitation.

5 March 1933: Drives to Munich with Weill to await the results of parliamentary elections. The Nazi party wins a plurality of the vote and soon outlaws all other parties. It becomes clear that Weill must leave Germany. Lenya returns to Vienna as Weill goes back to Berlin to make final preparations for his flight.

5 April 1933: Meets Weill in Nancy; he offers her and Pasetti parts in a newly commissioned work, Die sieben Todsünden.

7 June 1933: Plays Anna I in the premiere of Die sieben Todsünden in Paris, part of the summer season of a short-lived troupe, Les Ballets 1933. The ballet chanté is choreographed by George Balanchine; the production marks the last collaboration of Weill, Lenya, Brecht (libretto) and Caspar Neher (sets and costumes). Pasetti plays one of Anna I’s brothers; for him Weill writes an unusually high and punishing tenor part.

30 June 1933: Opens with Les Ballets 1933 in London for a three-week engagement.

18 September 1933: Divorce finalized in Germany. Lenya sells the Klein Machnow house later that year. She and Pasetti attempt to get Weill’s money and assets out of Germany over the next several months, with limited success.

29 December 1933: Plays Jessie in a performance of Mahagonny Songspiel augmented with four numbers from the opera at Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome. Pasetti is also in the cast. He and Lenya go to San Remo after the performance.

16 August 1934: Plays Pussy Angora in the premiere of a revue, Lieber reich aber glücklich, at the Corso-Theater in Zurich. Pasetti seems to be out of the picture by now. Lenya probably meets Max Ernst during this time.

October 1934: Lenya moves into Weill’s house in the suburbs of Paris. She begins an affair with the artist Max Ernst that lasts a few months.

8 April 1935: Travels to London, where she stays with her friend Gerty Simon as Weill readies his operetta A Kingdom for a Cow for production.

4 September 1935: Boards the S.S. Majestic for a voyage to the U.S. Weill must go to the New York to help arrange a production of the pageant The Eternal Road, and he asks Lenya to come with him. Both of them assume that they will soon return to Europe. They arrive on 10 September and check into the Hotel St. Moritz.

1 December 1935: Eternal Road director Max Reinhardt announces that Lenya will be part of the cast.

17 December 1935: Performs in an all-Weill concert, which is coolly received, at the League of Composers in New York. In a review, Marc Blitzstein opines that “Lenya is too special a talent for wide American appeal.”

7 April 1936: Signs contract to perform in Leonard Sillman’s revue, “New Faces of 1936.” The contract is later voided by mutual consent.

7 January 1937: Plays Miriam in the premiere of The Eternal Road at the Manhattan Opera House. Though the production runs about four months, Lenya’s performance, which includes a song, goes largely unnoticed among the press and public.

19 January 1937: Re-marries Weill in a civil ceremony in Westchester County.

Summer 1937: Moves with Weill into a duplex apartment in Manhattan, their first permanent home in the U.S.

24 October 1937: Plays The Suicide in the premiere of Marc Blitzstein’s radio opera, I’ve Got the Tune, broadcast on CBS.

April-May 1938: Performs regularly in a Manhattan nightclub, Le Ruban Bleu. Lenya mostly sings songs from Weill’s European works.

Christmas 1939: Receives a gift from Weill: a setting of Brecht’s poem “Nannas Lied.” She never performs it in public.

28 May 1941: Moves into Brook House (New City, NY) with Weill, the first house they buy together in the U.S. Both will live there for the rest of their lives.

22 October 1941: Plays Cissie, a maid, in the premiere of Candle in the Wind by Maxwell Anderson, directed by Alfred Lunt, at the Shubert Theatre—her Broadway debut. The run of 95 performances is followed by an extensive tour of the eastern half of the U.S. that continues until the end of May 1942, Lenya’s first travel in the heartland.

December 1941: Helps Ernst Josef Aufricht, producer of the world premiere of Die Dreigroschenoper, and his wife Margot escape Europe and come to the U.S.

3 April 1943: Participates in a fundraising concert for exiles in New York, “We Fight Back!” She gives the world premiere of Weill’s setting of Brecht’s poem, “Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib?”

December 1943: Records six Weill songs for Bost Records in New York – two each in German, French, and English.

5 May 1944: Becomes American citizen.

Summer 1944: Prepares for another Broadway role, the Duchess in Weill’s The Firebrand of Florence, by taking voice lessons with Eva Gauthier.

22 March 1945: Plays the Duchess in the premiere of The Firebrand of Florence (music and lyrics by Weill and Ira Gershwin, book by Edwin Justus Mayer) at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway. Weill insists that she be cast in a major supporting role over the objections of his collaborators. After the show flops (43 performances) and Lenya is panned, she gives up performing for several years.

Late 1947: Undergoes emergency appendectomy.

29 September 1948: Lenya’s mother and sister arrive from Vienna for a visit; they stay almost two months. It is the last time Lenya and her mother see each other.

3 April 1950: Weill dies of a heart attack in New York City after a two-week illness. Lenya is devastated; for weeks, her friends and neighbors are afraid to let her spend the night alone.

6 June 1950: Writes to magazine editor George Davis to thank him for a lovely evening and to issue a standing invitation for him to visit Brook House. The two have known each other since the late 1930s, but Lenya’s bereavement and Davis’s difficulty holding a job make them more attractive to each other.

10 July 1950: Attends a memorial concert for Weill in New York City. Maxwell Anderson delivers a eulogy.

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