Tom Sawyer: A New Musical with Songs by Kurt Weill
Caren van Oijen as Aunt Polly, along with members of the Komische Oper Children’s Chorus. Photo: Barbara Braun
Not often can a theater boast of premiering a new work with music by Kurt Weill. But this February, Komische Oper Berlin launched Tom Sawyer to unanimous acclaim. Billed as a Kinderoper (children’s opera), the work is the culmination of years of engagement by librettist John von Düffel with the subject of Weill’s last, unfinished theater work, Huckleberry Finn. Around the five fully drafted songs from that projected piece, von Düffel, arranger Kai Tietje, and the Komische Oper team have built a new version of Mark Twain’s classic about friendship, family, wild adventures, and first love. A number of additional songs by Weill have been incorporated, some with new lyrics.Critical and audience response to the premiere was overwhelmingly positive.
Clemens Haustein enthused in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “There is no reason to limit the new work by calling it a ‘children’s musical.’ Judging by the jubilation present at the Komische Oper, it appeals to all age groups—in the best tradition of Mark Twain.”
Twelve Rising Artists Chosen as Finalists in 2023 Lenya Competition
Finalists clockwise from top left: Jeremiah Sanders, Nyla Watson, Celeste Rose, Alicia Russell Tagert, Juliane Stolzenbach Ramos, Lucie St.-Martin, Midori Marsh, Taylor-Alexis DuPont, Rebekah Howell, Stavros Koumbaros, Ian Williams, Ryan Johnson.
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music has named twelve exceptional singing actors as finalists in the 2023 Lenya Competition. Hailing from eight US states, Canada, and Spain, the twelve will compete on 29 April in Rochester, New York with a fifteen-minute program of four contrasting numbers before the esteemed finals jury of Dame Josephine Barstow DBE, Kyle Scatliffe, Ted Chapin, and James Holmes.
This year’s competition drew a pool of 271 applicants representing 20 countries and 36 US states. Twenty-four were selected as semifinalists, who auditioned in-person and received immediate feedback and coaching with one of the two semifinal round judges: prominent music director Andy Einhorn and “Leading Lady of Crossover” Amy Justman.
Gala Weekend of Events to Celebrate Lenya Competition’s 25th Anniversary
The Kurt Weill Foundation and the Eastman School of Music are collaborating on a celebration of the Lenya Competition’s twenty-five-year history that will dovetail with the final round of the 2023 edition. A one-of-a-kind theatrical singing contest, the Lenya Competition began at the Eastman School in 1998 and has since grown by leaps and bounds in significance and stature. That stature will be prominently displayed in a gala concert of Competition alumni on 29 April featuring artists familiar now through their work at the Metropolitan Opera, on Broadway, and on London’s West End, among many other stages. Appearing will be eleven alumni prizewinners, headlined by international opera star Brian Mulligan, the top prize winner of the first competition. Weill’s songs will be much in evidence on the program—for example, “Come Up From the Fields, Father,” “I’m a Stranger Here Myself,” and “Trouble Man.”
The gala concert follows the final round Saturday afternoon and will be followed in turn by the awards presentation, when the top prize of $25,000 will be bestowed. Other weekend events include public panels featuring winners, judges, and other key participants from past Competitions, plus a performance of scenes from Kurt Weill’s stage works by Eastman School of Music students. On display throughout the weekend will be exhibits of Lenya Competition highlights as well as Weill manuscripts. Events will stream live online at www.kwf.org.