In 1927, four young composers — Paul Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, Ernst Toch, Kurt Weill — wrote short (15-30 minute) operas for a well-known contemporary music festival in Baden-Baden, Germany. That first performance, on 17 July 1927, has gone down in history. In October 2013, Gotham Chamber Opera will present the same program in a new production designed by Georg Baselitz and Court Watson (see Watson’s costume sketch for Jessie at right).
The four works (in order of performance) are: Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse (The Princess and the Pea) by Toch; Die Entführung der Europa (The Abduction of Europa) by Milhaud; Mahagonny: Ein Songspiel by Weill; and Hin und Zurück (There and Back) by Hindemith. Weill’s work, a setting of selected poems from Bertolt Brecht’s Hauspostille, became the kernel of the full-length opera, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, one of the definitive music-theater works of the Weimar era. Gotham Chamber Opera’s recreation, under the title “Baden-Baden 1927,” gives audiences a chance to experience the heady musical life of Germany between the wars, when innovation bloomed and composers shook off the shackles of the romantic past.
Alex Ross’s preview in The New Yorker
Learn more about Mahagonny (Songspiel)