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Lotte Lenya: A Detailed Chronology 1960-1969

This chronology lists Lenya's major performances, records key events in her life, and presents a skeletal picture of her movements and relationships. Only the most significant of her hundreds of appearances on radio and television are included. Doubtful dates are noted with a question mark.

7 February 1960
Performs in "A Kurt Weill Evening" at Carnegie Hall in New York, conducted by Maurice Levine. The supporting cast is nearly the same as in the previous year's Carnegie Hall concert, and the program ends once again with a concert rendition of Die Dreigroschenoper.

6 April 1960
Opens as Anna I in the German premiere of Die sieben Todsünden at the Städtische Bühnen in Frankfurt, choreographed by Tatjana Gsovsky. The production is accompanied by revivals of Weill's early one-act operas Der Protagonist and Der Zar lässt sich photographieren. The triple-bill remains in repertory during the summer.

6 May 1960
Performs in a Musica Viva subscription concert at the Herkules-Saal in Munich, conducted by Miltiades Caridis. The program includes Mahagonny (Songspiel), followed by Lenya's performances of Weill-Brecht songs and Die sieben Todsünden. Lenya repeats the program three days later in Darmstadt. The program is broadcast on Bayerischer Rundfunk on 5 September 1960.

Summer 1960
Appears on a Hessischer Rundfunk radio program, interviewed by Theodor Adorno.

9-10 July 1960
Records Happy End for Philips (B 47 080 L) in Hamburg, singing all the songs with choral backing, conducted by Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg. The Columbia (OL 5630) issue is not released in the U.S. until August 1964.

August 1960
Returns to the U.S. and takes a new apartment, at 404 E. 55th Street. She keeps the lease for the rest of her life.

18 October 1960
Opens as Jenny in The Threepenny Opera at the Music Box Theatre in Los Angeles, directed by Carmen Capalbo, in a west-coast production featuring several of the actors who opened the show in New York in 1954. Lenya remains in the cast for about a month.

29 November 1960
Arrives in London to film The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, directed by José Quintero and distributed by Warner Brothers. Lenya plays Countess Magda Terribili-Gonzales, a procuress. She is nominated both for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award as best supporting actress, although she does not win either. Filming continues until March 1961. Lenya returns to the U.S. early in April, after a visit to Vienna.

Early 1961
Broadcast of a half-hour program in the "Monitor" series on BBC Television, directed by Ken Russell. The program includes performances of several Weill songs and an interview.

August-October 1961
Travels to England and Germany to do further research into Weill's life and work with David Drew. She intended to perform in Kenneth MacMillan's production of The Seven Deadly Sins at the Edinburgh Festival, but pulled out because of artistic differences. She is replaced by Cleo Laine.

14 November 1961
Appears in Brecht on Brecht (a revue of songs, poems, and excerpts from plays assembled by George Tabori) at the Theater de Lys in New York, directed by Gene Frankel. The show, part of the ANTA matinee series, is repeated 20 November 1961.

3 January 1962
Opens in Brecht on Brecht at the Theater de Lys for a regular run, succeeding The Threepenny Opera. The original cast soundtrack is recorded by Columbia (O2S 203). Originally scheduled for a limited six-week run, the show logs over 200 performances.

Spring 1962
Meets the painter Russell Detwiler at a party given by W.H. Auden in New York. A courtship soon begins.

26 May 1962
Presents the Obie Awards in New York.

16 August 1962
Forms the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music as a non-profit corporation.

11 September 1962
Opens in Brecht on Brecht at the Royal Court Theatre in London for a four-week limited engagement. Detwiler travels to London separately for the opening.

2 November 1962
Marries Russell Detwiler in London. They take a honeymoon in Germany and return to New York on 29 November.

January 1963
Travels to London to attend the British premiere of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, translated into English by David Drew and Michael Geliot and conducted by Colin Davis.

April-July 1963
Films From Russia with Love in Europe, directed by Terence Young. Lenya's performance as Russian spymaster Rosa Klebb, including hand-to-hand (or foot-to-hand) combat with Sean Connery as James Bond at the end of the film, introduces her to the widest audience yet.

Autumn 1963
It is reported that Lenya will play Mother Courage in a production at the Theater de Lys, due to open in January 1964. The production does not materialize.

Autumn 1963
Broadcast of a "Personal Report" interview with John Simon on Channel 13, New York City.

October 1963
Learns of a performance of "Das kleine Mahagonny" given by the Berliner Ensemble at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin from a report by David Drew, who writes Lenya that "Kurt is simply annihilated." Acting on Drew's outrage at the piece, which is basically a pastiche (with extensively altered music) of the original Songspiel and the later full-length opera, Lenya defends her interest in both works and forbids further performances of the new adaptation, acquiescing only to Helene Weigel's plea to allow the Berliner Ensemble to record it and keep it in repertory.

13 October-7 December 1963
Tours with Brecht on Brecht to thirty or so colleges in the Northeast and Midwest. In Detroit, she meets a student named Ted Mitchell, who will become a close friend and frequent photographer.

February 1964
Takes a two-week vacation in the Bahamas with Russell Detwiler.

9 May 1964
Suffers back injuries in a car accident.

28 October 1964
Broadcast of "Lotte Lenya: The Broadway Years of Kurt Weill" as part of the "Stage 2" series on CBS-TV. The program is directed by Jack Landau and co-stars Russell Nype.

Records "Havanna-Lied" and "Surabaya Johnny" for the television program, "Aaron Copland -- Music in the Twenties: New Movements in Opera," for WGBH-TV in Boston. The show is broadcast 15 July 1965.

8 January 1965
Performs her third, and last, concert at Carnegie Hall, "A Kurt Weill Evening."

April-May 1965
Lenya and Detwiler travel to Germany for rehearsals of Brecht's Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder. Lenya, having increasing difficulty with Detwiler's drinking problem, first sends him to Anna Krebs (who has graciously agreed to look after him so Lenya can rehearse in peace), then is forced to send him back to the U.S.

12 June 1965
Opens as Mutter Courage in Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder at the Ruhrfestspiele in Recklinghausen, directed by Harry Buckwitz. The limited engagement runs about six weeks. For the first time in many years, Lenya gets predominantly negative reviews. The role is closely associated with Helene Weigel, Brecht's widow and Lenya's frequent sparring partner in Weill-Brecht disputes; the German critics prefer Weigel's famous interpretation of the role. The performance is televised 25 July 1965 on 2. Programm in Germany.

30-31 July 1965
Performs a concert of Weill songs at the Sporthalle in Cologne.

May 1966
Tapes a one-hour program with George Voskovec, "The World of Kurt Weill," for WGBH-TV (National Educational Television) in Boston. It is broadcast in February 1967.

Summer 1966
Harold Prince offers Lenya the part of Fräulein Schneider in the Kander-Ebb-Masteroff musical Cabaret, which she accepts.

30 August 1966
Broadcast of "Interregnum" on New York's WNDT (Channel 13). Lenya narrates the program about George Grosz and Germany between the wars. The program was made in 1960 in both English and German versions.

7 October 1966
Broadcast of Ten Blocks on the Camino Real on National Educational Television (WHYY in New York). Lenya plays the Gypsy in the drama based on Tennessee Williams's one-act play.

10 October 1966
Opens as Fräulein Schneider in the Boston tryout of Cabaret.

20 November 1966
Cabaret opens at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York, directed by Hal Prince. The show runs 1,165 performances, with Lenya in the cast through May 1969 except for a few brief hiatuses. The cast recording is made in December and is released on Columbia (KOL 6640). She is nominated for a Tony Award in 1967 for best actress in a musical.

23 November 1966
Appears on the Today Show (CBS television) to plug Cabaret.

21 February 1967
Broadcast of Das Berliner Requiem on CBC-TV (CBC Showcase) in Canada. Lenya reads poetry between numbers.

March 1967
Detwiler is committed to Bellevue Hospital for treatment of alcoholism and is transferred in June to a sanatorium in Connecticut to continue treatment. He is released in July and succeeds in staying sober for about a year.

2 March 1967
Breaks shoulder trying to stop a dogfight.

2 May 1967
Awarded a citation by the Aegis Theatre Club for achievement in theater, specifically her performance in Cabaret.

August-September 1967
Films "Lotte Lenya singt Kurt Weill" in New York for UFA. An English version is also made. The program is broadcast on Westdeutsches Werbefernsehen in 1969.

April-May 1968
Travels with Detwiler to Rome for filming of The Appointment, directed by Sidney Lumet for MGM. Lenya plays another procuress, Emma Valadier. The film flops in its first screening in Cannes in 1969 and is never released in the U.S. Lenya returns to Cabaret in May.

27 September 1968
Signs a publishing agreement to transfer the American rights in Weill's music to The Richmond Organization and receives an advance of $250,000.

February 1969
Records "Welcome Home" and "Young Blood" by John Cacavas and Charles O. Wood (also known as Charles Osgood) for Metromedia Records (MM-165). The recording sells few copies due to its topical nature.

11 April 1969
Films "13 Stars for 13," for WNDT-TV (Educational Broadcasting Corporation) in New York.

27 June 1969
Awarded "Das grosse Verdienstkreuz" (Great Service Cross) by the West German government in New York.

Late 1969
Is offered the part of Coco Chanel in Alan Jay Lerner's musical, Coco. She declines, and the part is taken by Katharine Hepburn.

30 October 1969
Detwiler dies from a fall caused by an alcoholic seizure. Lenya buries him near Kurt Weill in Mount Repose Cemetery. While trying to honor previous commitments, she goes into a period of inactivity and depression which lasts for about a year.

9 November 1969
Performs in "The Music of Kurt Weill," a concert at Philharmonic Hall (now Avery Fisher Hall) in New York. Lenya sings "Bilbao-Song" and "Surabaya-Johnny." Many other singers participate; the first half of the program is a selection of Weill's songs and the second half is a concert performance of Lady in the Dark.

1950-1959 | 1970-1981