Nina Stemme and HK Gruber
in a Stunning All-Weill Program
with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Nina Stemme (Anna I) and Charlotta Öfverholm (Anna II) in The Seven Deadly Sins.
(Photos by Fabian Kriese.)
|Composer-conductor HK Gruber has long been one of the finest interpreters of Kurt Weill’s music; in recent years he has partnered closely with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. That partnership moved to the next level in December with the premiere of a new Weill project featuring international opera star Nina Stemme: an all-Weill program featuring Der neue Orpheus and The Seven Deadly Sins, both fully staged, with Fantaisie symphonique (Symphony No.2) in concert performance between. The theatrical environment created by British director Sam Brown provided a wealth of stark but striking visual imagery as a context for Stemme’s and Gruber’s powerful performances. Charlotta Öfverholm contributed choreography as well as dancing the part of Anna II in the Sins. Both vocal works were sung in English, featuring the premiere of a new translation of Der neue Orpheus by David Pountney. For Fantaisie symphonique, Gruber turned to the new critical edition, soon to be published as part of the Kurt Weill Edition. Gruber’s recording of both of Weill’s symphonies is forthcoming in February 2023 on the BIS label.
Watch this 2018 video recording of Gruber and the SCO performing Fantaisie symphonique.
KWF Announces Judges
for Lenya Competition Semifinals
|Prominent music director Andy Einhorn and “Leading Lady of Crossover” Amy Justman will serve as judge-coaches for the semifinal round of the 2023 Lenya Competition. Unique among major competitions, the Lenya Competition semifinals offer contestants feedback in the form of coaching from the judges immediately following each audition. Einhorn, who has served on five previous occasions as a judge in either the final or semifinal round, and Justman, herself a top prize winner of the Competition in 2004, are exceptionally qualified to bring useful insights to contestants.
The semifinal round takes place 16–17 March in New York City. In celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary, The Lenya Competition returns to its original home in Rochester, New York with a weekend of events in conjunction with the final round on Saturday 29 April. The awards presentation will follow a Gala Concert of past competition prizewinners, with panels of alumni and former judges in conversation, and exhibitions of Weill’s manuscripts and highlights from the first 25 years of the Competition.
Keep an eye on the special page on the KWF website for details and updates. And just as a reminder, applications for the 2023 Competition are accepted through 25 January.
Sona MacDonald Excels as Mackie Messer
In Die Dreigroschenoper at Volksoper Wien
Sona MacDonald as Macheath. Johanna Arrouas as Polly is at left. (Photo: Volksoper Wien)
|Sona MacDonald, whose Kurt Weill résumé is already long and impressive, stars as Macheath, aka Mackie Messer, in Volksoper Wien’s new production of Die Dreigroschenoper. She is the first female-identifying actor to play Macheath in a major production. Ljubisa Tošic, writing in Der Standard, joined a chorus of critics praising her performance. “The main character, clad all in snow white: Sona MacDonald is Macheath. Her flight, after marrying Polly, from brothel to jail and back again moves the Volksoper Wien performance toward its glittering climax. The big gestures of a revue are celebrated virtuosically, as are the little malicious ones. MacDonald is the circus director in the arena of a lively production that at times has the flair of a Peter Alexander TV variety show.” Performances continue this season through January.
REMINDER: Nominations Open for 2023 Kurt Weill Prize
The Foundation welcomes nominations for the 2023 Kurt Weill Prize for distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900 (including opera), for works first published in calendar years 2021 and 2022. Prizes are considered in two categories: The author of a winning book will receive $5,000, that of an article, $2,000. Deadline is 30 April 2023. Read more here.
17 December – One Touch of Venus
Oper Graz (Mark Merkel, conductor; Magdalena Fuchsberger, director). Performances through February 18.
The successful premiere in 2019 of a new German translation of One Touch of Venus by Roman Hinze has paved the way for new productions throughout German-speaking territories. Oper Graz takes up the baton with performances beginning in December 2022. Dionne Wudu brings to her portrayal of Venus a wide background of performance in American musical theater in Europe, not to mention fronting the band “Tape Five.” Bashful male lead Rodney is played by Christof Messner, a past award winner in the Lotte Lenya Competition. Magdalena Fuchsberger directs and Marcus Merkel conducts.
|OTHER SELECTED UPCOMING EVENTS
|18 December – Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny
Theater Bonn (Dirk Kaftan, conductor; Volker Lösch, director). Also 7 January.22 December – Die Dreigroschenoper
Volksoper Wien (Maurice Lenhard, director; Carlo Goldstein, conductor; Sona Macdonald, Machheath). Performances through 23 January.23 December – Die sieben Todsünden
Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn (Olivier Tambosi, director; Ivan Vasilevsky, conductor). Performances through February 5.24 December – Die Dreigroschenoper
Theater in der Josefstadt, Vienna (Torsten Fischer, director; Christian Frank, conductor). Performances through 30 June.25 December – Die Dreigroschenoper
Berliner Ensemble (Barrie Kosky, director; Adam Benzwi, conductor). Ongoing performances.
8 January – Lady in the Dark
Theater Basel (Martin G. Berger, director; Thomas Wise, conductor). Performances through June.
8 January – Walt Whitman Songs
Gürzenich-Orchester Köln (Thomas Hampson, baritone; Emmanuel Tjeknavorian, conductor).