It was a hit only last year in Vienna at the Theater in der Josefstadt, and now singer-actress Sona MacDonald is back with her staged tribute to Lotte Lenya, “Lenya Story: ein Liebeslied.” Best of all, opening night is Lenya’s 120th birthday, 18 October 2018!
The script by Torsten Fischer (who also directs) and Herbert Schäfer provides an overview of Lenya’s life: the glory years in Berlin where she went beyond Weill-Brecht to make her name in many other roles as well, and the eclipse and revival of her career in the U.S., which led not only to a historic production of The Threepenny Opera off-Broadway, but to major roles in film (Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love) and on Broadway (Fräulein Schneider in Cabaret). Her partner onstage, Tonio Arango, impersonates Weill, Brecht, and Lenya’s later husbands during the show; they are the only actors.
MacDonald’s starring role is very demanding; the script calls for a total of seventeen songs–including “Alabama-Song,” “Pirate Jenny,” “Surabaya-Johnny,” “Bilbao-Song,” “Mack the Knife” and other favorites–and she sings all of them. MacDonald (photo above right) has quite a history with Weill and Lenya, most memorably a star turn as Polly on the acclaimed recording of the critical edition of Die Dreigroschenoper under HK Gruber (RCA/BMG 74321 66133-2, released 1999). Her voice may be heard elsewhere this anniversary month in Guy Livingston’s two-part radio documentary on Lenya, airing on Concertzender in the Netherlands on 12 and 19 October and available for streaming. Livingston interviewed MacDonald in Berlin and features her thoughts on Lenya in the documentary.
Promotional video from Vienna performance
Sona MacDonald as Lenya at Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna