Now a fixture on the German scene, the Kurt Weill Fest Dessau opens its doors for the 23rd time on 27 February 2015. With a good mix of many old Dessau hands, including conductors James Holmes and Antony Hermus, soprano Ute Gfrerer, and HK Gruber and the Ensemble Modern, along with newcomers like conductor Kristjan Järvi and artist-in-residence Cornelia Froboess, this year’s Fest promises some intriguing Weill performances. A partial list of highlights:
Opening concert, 27 February: A new concert version of Weill’s first Broadway show, Johnny Johnson, will be performed by the MDR Sinfonieorchester and soloists. Actor Bernhard Bettermann has adapted the script for concert performance, and composer Gene Pritsker has prepared a symphonic scoring. The new version is titled “Braver Soldat Johnny,” a tip of the hat to Weill and Paul Green’s fictional model, Good Soldier Schweik.
“Lights on Broadway,” 28 February: Lotte Lenya Competition prizewinners Rebecca Jo Loeb and Alen Hodzovic reunite with pianist James Holmes in an evening of Broadway songs, with favorites by Weill, Sondheim, and others.
Die Dreigroschenoper, 1 March: Weill maven HK Gruber revs up one of his most popular concerts, Die Dreigroschenoper with the Ensemble Modern and a seasoned group of soloists, including Gruber himself as Mr. Peachum. Ute Gfrerer sings Polly, and Simon Bode takes the role of Macheath. It’s a busy day for the Ensemble Modern. Just a few hours before the evening performance of Dreigroschenoper, they will perform a concert of great chamber works, including Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time.
“My Heart Gives You Love,” 6 March: This orchestral concert led by longtime conductor of the Anhaltische Philharmonie, Antony Hermus, will feature Weill’s complete cycle of Walt Whitman Songs. The concert also offers the world premiere of a new composition by the Chair of the Weill Foundation’s Board, Ed Harsh. Works by Elgar and Vaughan-Williams round out the program.
“Berlin – Paris – New York,” 8 March: James Holmes leads the Magdeburger Philharmonie in a program of more than twenty Kurt Weill songs from one end of his career as a dramatic composer to the other. Holmes is one of Weill’s leading champions worldwide, and the Fest is pleased to offer programs in Magedeburg, one of three cities where Weill’s last German stage work, Der Silbersee, was premiered.
“Meine Lieder singt sie berückend schön …” 12 March: Longtime Weill exponents Jürgen Schebera and soprano Stefanie Wüst meet in a program of early songs by Weill and Eisler, highlighting both the similarities and differences between two of Brecht’s collaborators.
“Strauss & Weill,” 15 March: The final program of this year’s Kurt Weill Fest pairs music of Richard Strauss with Weill’s second one-act opera, Royal Palace (1927) in a semi-staged performance. Ernst Theis conducts the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz and vocal soloists including Sara Hershkowitz as Dejanira.
Festival home page (in English)
Complete Festival program (in English)