Thomas Hampson in Classic Performance 

of Weill’s Four Walt Whitman Songs

Esteemed American baritone Thomas Hampson long ago staked his claim as one of the leading interpreters of Walt Whitman’s poetry in song. A new Capriccio release offers the gift of Hampson at the height of his powers in the orchestral version of Weill’s Four Walt Whitman Songs. Captured live at a 2001 Salzburg Festival performance with Dennis Russell Davies and the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hampson makes the best case yet for the Whitman Songs as a major work in Weill’s catalog.

The Capriccio release also presents Davies and the ORF Symphony in a 1998 performance of Propheten, a work derived by the late eminent Weill scholar David Drew from Der Weg der Verheißung. Conceived in Europe immediately after Hitler came to power, Der Weg was intended to call attention to the looming threat to the Jewish people posed by National Socialism. An English version eventually premiered in New York in January 1937, entitled The Eternal Road, which left out roughly a third of the music Weill composed, including most of the fourth and final act. Drew’s Propheten presents that previously neglected act, framing it with Weill’s arrangement of the Hatikvah, dialogue from Der Weg, and portions of the third act.

Marc Blitzstein’s No for an Answer
“packs a punch”
at London’s Arcola Theatre

The cast from London’s Arcola Theatre Production of No for an Answer. Photo: Alex Brennan.

Workers gather in a social club, trying to cope during a time of economic crisis and high unemployment. With its setting redolent of conditions in many times and places, Marc Blitzstein’s No for an Answer proves especially ripe for revival in present-day Britain. A new production premiering 26 July at London’s Arcola Theatre brought the work back to the stage as part of the annual Grimeborn Festival. Director Mehmet Ergen’s affinity for Blitzstein dates at least to his 2010 production of The Cradle Will Rock. For Answer, he has created a production described by Rachel Halliburton in The Times as packing a “powerful punch,” gaining “considerable oomph from the rigorous [choral] ensemble work led by the musical director Dan Turek.” Michael Higgs of Broadway World finds that “the strongest aspect of Answer is its score, which is constantly engaging and fits with the plot, whether dark and broody as in ‘No for an Answer’ or more upbeat and amusing as in ‘Penny Candy’” Read more here about Marc Blitzstein and his life and work.

The Lenya Competition – Key Dates for 2024

24 January 2024: Application Deadline for Video Auditions
21 & 22 March 2024: Semifinals, New York, NY
4 May 2024: Finals, Rochester, NY

Featured Upcoming Events

31 August – Kleine Dreigroschenmusik
BBC Proms (Vladimir Jurowski conducts the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin)
The thirtieth appearance of Weill’s music on a Proms concert matches eminent conductor Jurowski with one of Weill’s most widely performed works.

31 August – Symphonie in einem Satz
Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin (Joana Mallwitz, conductor)

Mallwitz features Weill’s first symphony on her very first concert as the Chief Conductor of the Konzerthaus Orchester. (Additional performance on 1 September.) Performances of Fantaisie symphonique and Die sieben Todsünden will come later in the season.

6 September – Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny
Dutch National Opera  (Ivo van Hove, director; Markus Stenz, conductor; Lauren Michelle, Jenny; Nikolai Schukoff, Jimmy; Evelyn Herlitzius, Leokadja Begbick)

This third realization of Ivo van Hove’s peripatetic production will be especially noteworthy in bringing together one of the foremost interpreters of Aufstieg, conductor Markus Stenz, with Lenya Competition First Prize Winner (2015) Lauren Michelle, cast for the first time in the leading role of Jenny. (Additional performances on 9, 12, 14, 20, 24, and 27 September.)

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