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Tom Sawyer

Family opera in two acts after Mark Twain. Music by Kurt Weill. Text by John von Düffel. Original song texts by Maxwell Anderson and Ira Gershwin. Orchestra arrangement by Kai Tietje. Book and lyrics in German.

Work Details


Approximately two hours

First Performance

18 February 2023. Komische Oper Berlin.

For information about licensing this work for use, see our online guide

Mark Twain’s classic about friendship, family, wild adventures and first love has been adapted as an opulent family opera for people aged six and over, with music by Kurt Weill.

Just before Weill died, he drafted five songs for a prospective musical based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with book and lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. The show was never finished, and the songs survived only as sheet music. In 2014, John von Düffel wrote a stage version with music—primarily intended for theater ensembles—that incorporated Weill’s five completed songs as well as other songs with new and free lyrics from Kurt Weill’s American career. This work is titled Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Now, a version fully fitted for opera houses has been prepared for family audiences. With the title Tom Sawyer, this version is set for forty-three (alternatively nineteen) musicians, children’s choir and twelve (alternatively seven) soloists. Kai Tietje’s orchestra arrangements are based on Weill’s sound palette from the 1940s.

“There is no reason to limit the new work by calling it a ‘children’s musical.’ Judging by the jubilation present at the Komische Oper, it appeals to all age groups—in the best tradition of Mark Twain.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

For more press reaction from the preview, see the news post here.

For a listing of performing forces required, see this page from Felix Bloch Erben.

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