Weill’s biggest Broadway failure (he called it a “smash flop”), The Firebrand of Florence has seen few revivals over the years. In fact, despite successful concert performances in London and Vienna during Weill’s centenary celebration (2000), the show has never been staged in Europe. The Staatsoperette Dresden will rectify that omission during the 2013-14 season, with a new production of the operetta in a new German translation by Roman Hinze.
Less than a year after Lady in the Dark closed and as One Touch of Venus continued its lengthy Broadway run, Weill turned to Ira Gerswhin once again to write lyrics for a new show based on Edwin Justus Mayer’s 1924 play, The Firebrand, based on the life of Benvenuto Cellini. (Mayer supplied the book for the new show as well.) Despite a riveting 20-minute opening scene in which Cellini dodges the gallows, and a core of lovely musical numbers, the show ran little more than a month, plagued by an inexperienced cast and misguided staging. Firebrand remained forgotten for a long time, but a complete recording featuring Rodney Gilfry and Sir Andrew Davis from the London concert performance (Capriccio 60 091) and a 2009 concert rendition starring Nathan Gunn, Anna Christy, and Victoria Clark with the Collegiate Chorale in New York have proven that the show is ready for prime time. Now it’s getting its big chance in Dresden.
Audio feature (9 parts, in German)
Commentary from the Staatsoperette Dresden
Staatsoperette’s magazine with feature on Firebrand
Learn more about The Firebrand of Florence
Die Welt (Manuel Brug)
nmz.de (Michael Ernst)