In This Issue:

Joana Mallwitz Incorporates Focus on Weill
in First Season Leading
Berlin’s Konzerthaus Orchestra

Joana Mallwitz leading the Orchestre de Paris.

Weill’s two symphonies continue their ascent, appearing more and more frequently on orchestra programs throughout Europe. German conductor Joana Mallwitz, already one of the superstars of her generation, is using her new post as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and her brand new contract with Deutsche Grammophon to stake her claim as one of the works’ champions. Just this past February, Mallwitz made her debut with Orchestre de Paris leading a program that included Fantaisie Symphonique (Symphony No. 2). Mallwitz says of Weill that he “achieved something that only truly great composers succeed in doing. He created a style of his own. There is a sound and a harmony with him that one always recognizes, a roughness and at the same time complexity that I appreciate very much. I find the symphonies particularly exciting and have really fallen in love with them.“

Now, for her first season at the Konzerthaus—better still, her very first concert—she has chosen Weill’s music as one of her focal points. She will conduct the Symphonie in einem Satz (Symphony No. 1) in the September season opener, along with first symphonies by Prokofiev and Mahler. In February 2024, she leads a three-concert set pairing Die sieben Todsünden (Katharine Mehrling as Anna I) with Fantaisie Symphonique. Then, she and the orchestra will record all three Weill works for the first release under her new contract with  Deutsche Grammophon.

New French-Language Threepenny Opera 
Set to Premiere in Aix

Macheath (Birane Ba) and Jenny (Elsa Lepoivre) in studio rehearsals at the Comédie-Française,
preparing for the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence premiere of L’opéra de quat’sous.
© 2023 Jean-Louis Fernandez / coll. Comédie-Française.

A groundbreaking new production of L’opéra de quat’sous (The Threepenny Opera) premieres on 4 July at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Directed by Thomas Ostermeier, longtime artistic leader of Berlin’s Schaubühne, the production introduces a new French translation created for the occasion by Alexandre Pateau. Observes Ostermeier: “It is paramount to underline the fact that this play with music predates Brecht’s reading of Karl Marx; it was written before he developed his ‘method’ based on his reflections on epic theater and therefore before his political plays. This realization obviously informs how it should be staged.”

Music Director Maxime Pascal will lead musicians of the ensemble Le Balcon. Pascal reflects on the popular association often made between Weill’s music and cabaret and jazz. “It seems to me that in the collective imagination, The Threepenny Opera more or less marks the arrival of jazz in Europe at the end of the 1920s, whereas the roots of Weill’s musical expression are very different indeed. When I opened the score, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities with Mahler and the composers of the Second Viennese School.”

The performances in Aix will include an interpolated song originally composed by Weill in 1937 for a Paris production featuring Yvette Guilbert, a wildly popular cabaret singer of the day. As a co-production with the Comédie-Française, this Threepenny Opera boasts a cast of first-rate singing actors. Prominent among them is Marie Oppert, a past prizewinner of the Lenya Competition, who plays the role of Polly Peachum in Aix. She is the fourth Kurt Weill / Lotte Lenya Artist sponsored this season by the KWF.

The production will relocate to Paris in the fall, for a run of more than thirty performances at the Comédie-Française.

See the Festival site for more information, including a video interview with Thomas Ostermeier.

An Arrangement of Dances from
Mahagonny Premieres in Leipzig and Salzburg

The Gewandhaus-Bläserquintett. Photo: Jens Gerber.

Composer Christian Muthspiel, who with HK Gruber created the fifteen-player version of Die sieben Todsünden, has turned to Weill again. In response to a commission from Leipzig’s famed Gewandhausorchester, Muthspiel has taken six numbers from Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny and arranged them for wind quintet. The Gewandhaus-Bläserquintett has already performed Tänze aus Mahagonny twice, giving the world premiere in Leipzig on 26 February 2023, followed by a repeat at the Salzburg Easter Festival on 2 April. The six-movement work consists of the following numbers from the opera: “Alabama-Song,” “Denn wie man sich bettet,” “Ich habe gelernt,” “Ach bedenken Sie, Herr Jakob Schmidt,” “Jetzt hab’ ich gegessen zwei Kälber,” and “Erstens, vergesst nicht, kommt das Fressen.” Says Muthspiel: “It’s a perfect piece for woodwind quintet, and it would be great for a good dance company, or even solo dancer, to work with because of its many different moods and tempi.”