In This Issue:





Lady(s) Sparkle in Europe
Two new hit productions prove that Lady in the Dark is a rising force.




Delia Mayer’s Liza in mid-dream in Basel. Photo: Ingo Höhn.




“Everyone is asking themselves – why is this piece so seldom seen?” This searching question from the Badische Zeitung follows the hugely successful premiere of Lady in the Dark at Theater Basel. Writes critic Alexander Dick: “Kurt Weill’s music fascinates: It embodies a style of musical à la George Gershwin, but with typical Weillian melody. Especially in the through-composed dream sequences, the composer reaches far beyond the genre’s usual number style. With Thomas Wise, all of this is in the best hands, as the Basel Symphony Orchestra authentically recreates the sound of the 1940s, with great attention to detail and real drive—full of enthusiasm.”

Lady is a star vehicle. The role of Liza requires the ultimate triple threat performer—one who can sing, act, and dance—at the heart of the action from first to last. Delia Mayer, widely recognized for her television roles in “Unorthodox” and Germany’s “Die Cleveren,” proves worthy of the challenge. According to Laura Weidacher of JOURNAL21, Mayer “offers an extraordinary performance as a border-crosser between word, dance, and song on stage, an absolute stroke of luck for this piece that breaks all boundaries.” Martin G. Berger directs.




Maartje Rammeloo’s Liza at Opera Zuid. Photo: Bjorn Frins.




Fourteen days after the premiere in Basel, another new production opened in Maastricht. Mischa Game of NRC exults that, as a “testament to guts and insight,” the Opera Zuid production shows that “Lady in the Dark is too good to be unknown…. the colorful costumes by designer Madeleine Boyd and the imaginative direction of Anna Pool result in a wonderfully escapist performance that mixes genres in a way you rarely experience.” Maartje Rammeloo, the Maastricht Liza enthuses that, with Lady, “both Opera Zuid and I have gold on our hands.” She describes the production as “breaking through the barriers of genre: singing, dancing, acting, acrobatics. Everything is in it. It’s both opera and the world of Bette Davis.” Musical director David Stern conducts the Philharmonie Zuid “in style: sharp in the rhythms, syrupy in the swing.”

With the upcoming Volksoper Wien revival of Lady in the Dark in January, the 2022/23 season will become the first ever to feature three separate productions running concurrently in Europe. But it surely won’t be the last such occurrence for this work on the rise.





Lost in the Stars:
“Stunning” Production a “Relevant Must-See”




Ruth Acheampong (Irina), Naivell Steib (Absalom), Carl DuPont (Stephen Kumalo). Photo: Michael Halbig. 




Lost in the Stars is a rare and interesting musical,” writes Darby DeJarnette of DC Theater Arts. In a glowing review of Annapolis Opera’s new production, she continues, “the strong cast of singers and the relevance of this tale to modern audiences make this musical tragedy a must-see.” Based on Alan Paton’s bestselling novel Cry, the Beloved Country, Lost in the Stars situates personal relationships between racial groups within the cruel context of pre-apartheid South Africa. The Annapolis production marks the professional debut of recent Lenya Competition prizewinner and Kurt Weill/Lotte Lenya Artist Ruth Acheampong, whose “agile and intense soprano is perfect for the lovestruck and wayward Irina. Her performance of the aria ‘Stay Well’ was emotionally cathartic.” Dennis Whitehead Darling directed and Annapolis Artistic Director Craig Kier conducted.





Street Scene Returns to Houston




Street Scene’s tenement house and cast of characters, as envisioned by
Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music production. Photo: Pippa Jarvis.




Houston holds an honored place in the geography of Street Scene’s production history. The 1994 co-production by Houston Grand Opera boasted Francesca Zambello’s insightful stage direction; when it traveled to partner theaters in Germany, James Holmes took over conducting duties, creating a landmark realization of the work, which is available on home video. A new production by Houston’s Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, supported by the KWF’s Grant Program, further cements the piece’s reputation as a classic in the realm of student performance. Patrick Diamond, stage director for the Shepherd production, explains: “Our students come from all over the country and all over the world. So it’s kind of amazing to have a piece that—even though the characters are very specifically from different places than our students are—still reflects that experience and diversity.” Diamond adds that “there are issues in this work that are at the forefront of our social and political conversations today.” The power of Street Scene in this educational setting is captured well in a video prepared by the school, which is viewable here.





A Special Celebration for The Lenya Competition at 25




Lenya Competition winners in professional performance (Left to Right):
Matthew Grills and Brian Mulligan, Sweeney Todd (San Francisco Opera); Michael Maliakel, Aladdin (Broadway production); Justin Hopkins and Lauren Michelle, Lost in the Stars (LA Chamber Orchestra).




The Lenya Competition returns to its original home in Rochester, New York in celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary with a weekend of events on 29-30 April, around the final round of the 2023 competition. The awards presentation will follow a Gala Concert of past competition winners, with panels of alumni and former judges in conversation, and exhibits of Weill’s manuscripts and Competition highlights. Keep an eye on the special page on the KWF website for details and updates.




Upcoming Events








20 November – “Kurt Weill and The Threepenny Opera”

BBC Radio 3 (Tom Service, correspondent)

Tom Service takes a musical dive into the sound world of Kurt Weill’s, Bertolt Brecht’s, and Elisabeth Hauptmann’s epoque-making The Threepenny Opera. Broadcasts at 17:00 GMT on Sunday, 20 November, at 16:30 GMT on Friday, 25 November, and available for the following 30 days for streaming on demand.




25 November – Die Dreigroschenoper

Volksoper Wien (Maurice Lenhard, director; Carlo Goldstein, conductor; Sona Macdonald, Macheath). Performances through 23 January.

Volksoper Wien’s new leader Lotte de Beer has entrusted stage director Maurice Lenhard and music director Carlo Goldstein with a production that promises to push hard against convention. The role of Macheath will be played by a woman with a long and sterling record of Weill performance: Sona MacDonald.




3 December – Der neue Orpheus, Fantaisie symphonique, Die sieben Todsünden

Swedish Chamber Orchestra (HK Gruber, conductor; Nina Stemme, soprano; Sam Brown, director).

HK Gruber’s partnership with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra moves to the next level with the premiere of a new Weill project featuring international opera star Nina Stemme. Director Sam Brown will mount fully realized, theatrical performances of Die sieben Todsünden and Der neue Orpheus with Fantaisie symphonique un-staged in between.








15 November – Lady in the Dark *
Opera Zuid (Anna Pool, director; David Stern, conductor). Performances through 11 December.17 November – Die sieben Todsünden
Orchestre Symphonique de Drummondville (Julien Proulx, conductor; Andrea Ludwig, mezzo-soprano; Quarter, vocal quartet).20 November – Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny
Komische Oper Berlin (Barrie Kosky, director; Roland Kluttig, conductor). Also 25 November.20 November  Die sieben Todsünden
Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn (Olivier Tambosi, director; Ivan Vasilevsky, conductor). Performances through 5 February, 2023.20 November – Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny
Theater Bonn (Volker Lösch, director; Dirk Kaftan, conductor). Performances through 7 January.22 November – Youkali
Opéra de Rouen Normandie (Johan Farjot, piano; Karin Deshayes, mezzo-soprano).25 November – Alabama Song
Finnish National Opera and Ballet (Jere Erkkilä, director; Nick Davies, conductor).27 November – Weill Songs
Konzerthaus Berlin (Banjamin Appl, baritone).29 November – Weill Songs
Oper Frankfurt (Marina Viotti, mezzo-soprano; Todd Camburn, piano; Antoine Brochot, double bass).

9 December – Die Dreigroschenoper
Weöres Sándor Theater, Szombathely, Hungary (Sándor Zsótér, director;  Ferenc Maronics, conductor). Also 10, 13, 14 December.



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