Venue: West Coast Kokkola Opera
Director: Anu Komsi
Conductor: Sakari Oramo
First Performance: 24 July 2014 (through 27 July)
West Coast Kokkola Opera will undertake a production of Kurt Weill and Georg Kaiser’s Der Silbersee (The Silver Lake), conducted by Sakari Oramo and directed by Anu Komsi. Weill’s third collaboration with Kaiser (following Der Protagonist, 1924-1925, and Der Zar lässt sich photographieren, 1927) premiered simultaneously in three German cities on 18 February 1933, less than five weeks before Weill was forced to flee Germany because of Nazi persecution (all three productions were closed by the Nazis in early March). It didn’t help that the show includes a song–“Ballad of Caesar’s Death”–widely understood as an attack on Hitler. Nazi censorship may have slowed Der Silbersee down, but successful productions in recent years at the Wexford Festival, Stockholm’s Folkoperan, London’s Broomhill Opera, and Opéra Saint-Céré in France have proven that the work still speaks to audiences.
The deeply allegorical story, set against a backdrop of hunger and class conflict, centers on the struggle between two men–one poor and one rich–whose fates become inextricably bound. Der Silbersee is a genre-defying work that lies somewhere between a play and an opera. Weill described it as “a play with well-integrated musical numbers, somewhat along the lines of a Singspiel.” The score includes arias, duets, choruses, melodramas, and instrumental interludes that oscillate between popular and serious music.
The Kokkola opera company was founded in 2004 and the summer festival got underway in 2006. Over the last decade, West Coast Kokkola Opera has staged both standard reportory and new or unfamiliar works. The production of Der Silbersee rests in the hands of the festival’s artistic director and principal conductor. Here is an opportunity for Finns and Swedes to see one of Weill’s finest German works, striking both for its theatrical innovations and an unflinching engagement with social justice.
Learn more about Der Silbersee