School opera in two acts.
Libretto by Bertolt Brecht, after the Japanese play Taniko
(translated into German by Elisabeth Hauptmann from the English translation by Arthur Waley).
Poster from first U.S. production, New York, 1933.
English title: The Yes-Sayer
Cast: The Boy (tenor or boy soprano), the Mother (mezzo), the Teacher (baritone), three students (2 tenors, 1 baritone), chorus, SATB.
Orchestra: fl, cl, alto sax; 2 pianos, harmonium, perc, plucked instruments ad lib. (guitar, banjo, lute); strings (without violas).
Duration: 35 minutes
Published Editions: libretto, Universal Edition, UE 8229
piano-vocal score (German), Universal Edition, UE 8206
piano-vocal score (English--Potts), Universal Edition, UE 8206E
Performance Rights and Rentals: USA, UK, BREV: EAMC
All other territories: UE
Authorized Translations: English -- H.M. Potts; Michael Feingold
French -- Edouard Pfrimmer
Italian -- Luigi Rognoni
First Production: June 24, 1930, Berlin, Zentralinstitut für Erziehung und Unterricht, Kurt Drabek, cond.
The chorus announces the theme of the work: When you agree to a course of action, you must understand it fully ("Wichtig zu lernen"). The teacher, who keeps a school in the city, enters. He hopes to bid farewell to one of his students before he goes off on a trip over the mountains ("Ich bin der Lehrer"). At the house, he asks the boy why he has not been to school recently, and the boy replies that his mother has been ill. The teacher describes his trip to the mother, who asks if he wants to bring the boy along ("Ich bin lange nicht hier gewesen"). The boy asks to make the trip ("Ich muss etwas sagen"). The teacher forbids him--the journey is too long and difficult and he should stay home. But the boy reminds him that he is visiting a great physician, who might be able to help his mother. His mother reluctantly allows the boy to make the trip ("Ich bin noch einmal zurückgekommen"). The chorus reinforces the decision ("Sie sahen, dass keine Vorstellungen").
The chorus explains that the teacher, the boy, and three older students are on the way back, and the boy is exhausted ("Die Leute haben die Reise in die Berge"). As they approach their shelter, the boy confesses that he is not well ("Wir sind schnell hinangestiegen"). The teacher tells him it is forbidden to say such things on the journey, but the three students have overheard and demand to speak to the teacher. He admits that the boy is ill, and the students remind him of the strict old custom that whoever falls ill during the journey over the mountains must be hurled into the valley ("Wir wollen es dem Lehrer sagen"). The teacher reminds them that the sick person may also demand that the entire party turn back. Then he goes to the boy and offers him the choice ("Höre gut zu"). The boy decides that he knew the risks and should not impede the expedition. He asks only that the three students fill his jar with medicine and take it to his mother, and they agree. Then the three students bear him gently to the cliff and throw him over. The chorus reiterates the theme ("Wichtig zu lernen" reprise).
|Polydor CD 839 727-2 reissued on Line Music CD 5.00991 reissued on Membran Music 232579||Joseph Protschka, Lys Bert, Willibald Vohla, Siegfried Kohler, cond.|
|Capriccio CD CD 60 020-1||Fredonia Chamber Singers, Kammerchor der Universität Dortmund, Orchester Campus Cantat 90, Willi Gundlach, cond.|
|FONO CD FCD 97 734||Chor und Orchester des Alexander-von-Humboldt-Gymnasiums Konstanz, Peter Bauer, cond.|