Saturday, July 29, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m.
Scott Concert Hall at the Porter Center
Ticket holders may attend a free Pre-Opera Talk in Scott Commons beginning one hour before the performance.
WEILL Street Scene
More Information (Show)
Adapted from Street Scene: An Appreciation
by Mark N. Grant
Elmer Rice was characteristically ungracious in accepting the 1929 Pulitzer Prize for his play, Street Scene, when he remarked, "I do not enjoy playgoing." Others did; the play ran 601 performances on Broadway, was translated into many languages and widely performed abroad, and was filmed in 1931 by King Vidor. Composer Deems Taylor, who had written incidental music for Rice's 1923 play The Adding Machine and whose opera The King's Henchman was a success in 1927 at the Met, obtained Rice's permission to turn Street Scene into an opera in March 1929, but he abandoned it for Peter Ibbetson.
Soon afterwards, Kurt Weill saw Street Scene in Berlin, and later saw the movie as well. In 1936, upon meeting Rice, Weill expressed interest in musicalizing Street Scene, but Rice declined. In 1945, with two Broadway successes under his belt, Weill asked again, and this time Rice assented. At first Weill enlisted Maxwell Anderson to help adapt the play, but Rice preferred to do the work himself. Weill and Rice made an inspired and daring choice of lyricist: the African- American poet Langston Hughes. For research, Hughes and Weill went to Harlem nightclubs together and watched children playing street games. After the show opened, Rice insisted on co-credit for several of the lyrics, but it is clear that some of the most eloquent, as well as the street-savviest ("Hey Babarebop!"), are Hughes's alone. Backing for the show was provided by the Playwrights' Company and Dwight Deere Wiman, who had produced many Rodgers and Hart shows. The three-week tryout in Philadelphia in December 1946 bombed disastrously with both press and public. Weill redoubled his efforts to encourage the company and improve the show. It all paid off at the Broadway opening at the Adelphi Theatre on January 9, which drew very enthusiastic reviews; for two months Street Scene was a hit. The show closed in May after 148 performances—still one of the three longest first runs ever of an opera composed for Broadway. Today Street Scene is Kurt Weill's most frequently revived American stage work. Perhaps the least dated of all Weill's American works, it still "lands" on stage because it is so emotionally committed. Undoubtedly Weill felt a special connection to Street Scene because he, like its characters, was a grateful emigré to America. His heartfelt letters to Lenya in the spring of 1945 relishing the defeat of the Nazis are immensely moving, and it is hard to imagine that those powerful emotions didn't carry over into his music for Rice's play. The composer's own judgment of the work was correct: Street Scene is Kurt Weill's American masterpiece.
Outside a multi-ethnic Manhattan tenement on a sweltering summer evening, some women are passing the time ("Ain't It Awful, the Heat?") while the janitor takes out the garbage ("I Got a Marble and a Star"). The women switch to gossiping about Anna Maurrant's extramarital affair with Sankey the milkman ("Get a Load of That"); they stop when she enters. Mrs. Maurrant and young Sam Kaplan, who is in love with her daughter Rose, converse as Mr. Buchanan frets about his wife's impending childbirth ("When a Woman Has a Baby"). Then Anna's brutish (and suspicious) husband Frank arrives and demands to know why Rose hasn't come home from work. After Frank goes inside, Anna pours out her frustrations and broken dreams, even as she continues to hope for a better life ("Somehow I Never Could Believe"). When Sankey walks by, Anna follows him, fueling the neighbors' gossip ("Get a Load of That" reprise). Lippo Fiorentino arrives with ice-cream cones for everyone, providing relief (comic and otherwise) from the heat ("Ice-Cream Sextet"). Frank, not amused, rails against kids today and modern society ("Let Things Be Like They Always Was"). The Hildebrand family enters, about to be evicted from their apartment because they can't pay the rent, even though oldest daughter Jenny has just won a scholarship ("Wrapped in a Ribbon and Tied in a Bow").
The building's denizens retire for the night. Sam stays outside to lament his isolation in the midst of so many neighbors ("Lonely House"). After Sam goes in, Rose Maurrant finally enters, escorted by her lecherous boss Harry Easter. Easter tries to seduce her with promises of a show business career ("Wouldn't You Like to Be on Broadway?"), but Rose rebuffs him ("What Good Would the Moon Be?"). Easter leaves as Frank enters. Mrs. Buchanan goes into labor, and Rose exits to summon the doctor. Mae Jones and her boyfriend Dick, who have been out partying, do a jitterbug on the sidewalk ("Moon-Faced, Starry-Eyed"). When Rose returns, Mae's brother Vincent makes a pass at her. Sam comes out to defend her, and Vincent knocks him down. Rose comforts Sam, and the two share their dream of escaping the tenement's squalor ("Remember That I Care").
Early the next morning; Rose's younger brother Willie and the other children play on the sidewalk ("Catch Me If You Can"). Buchanan's wife has given birth. Rose tells Sam she is on her way to a funeral. Frank says he is going out of town, but he gets truculent when Anna asks when he'll be back. Rose tries to convince Frank to be kinder to Anna, but he rejects her advice ("There'll Be Trouble"). After Frank leaves, Anna sends Willie off to school, telling him that he will make her proud some day ("A Boy Like You"). Rose tells Sam about Harry Easter's offer. Appalled, Sam pleads with Rose to elope with him now; she considers the idea ("We'll Go Away Together") but decides she needs to think it over. Rose leaves for the funeral, and city marshals arrive to evict the Hildebrands, as Sam remains seated on the stoop. Mr. Sankey enters and Mrs. Maurrant invites him up to her apartment. Suddenly Frank reappears. Sam tries to warn Anna, but to no avail. Frank rushes upstairs and shoots Anna and Sankey, who drops dead. Frank escapes in the confusion as an ambulance, policemen, and crowds mob around. Rose returns from the funeral just in time to see her mortally wounded mother carried off on a stretcher ("The Woman Who Lived Up There").
Later that day, two nannies push their baby carriages in front of the tenement and gossip about the murder ("Lullaby"). Rose returns from the hospital where her mother has died. As Sam and his sister Shirley try to comfort Rose, more shots ring out: Frank Maurrant has been captured by the police. Now remorseful, Frank awkwardly tries to explain to Rose why he committed the murders ("I Loved Her Too") as the police lead him away. Sam once more declares his love and implores Rose to go away with him, but she has decided that she must go off on her own ("Don't Forget the Lilac Bush"). Two strangers enter, hoping to rent the Hildebrands' apartment. As evening approaches, the denizens of the building once again sit on the stoop as if nothing happened, gossiping and complaining about the heat ("Ain't It Awful, the Heat?" reprise).
- Mark N. Grant
Overture Program Information
Artist Information (Show)
Frank Maurrant - Joel Rogier - Anna Maurrant - Amanda Palmeiro - Rose Maurrant - Anna Montgomer - Willie Maurrant - Sean Rydel - Emma Jones - Erin Moran - George Jones - Ian Bolden - Mae Jones - Adina Triolo - Vincent Jones - August Bair - Olga Olsen - Melina Jaharis - Carl Olsen - Steele Fitzwater - Abraham Kaplan - Blake Ellege - Sam Kaplan - Taylor Rawley - Shirley Kaplan - Charlotte Jackson - Greta Fiorentino - Benedetta Cordaro - Lippo Fiorentino - Victor Cardamone - Laura Hildebrand - Melanie Burbules - Jennie Hildebrand - Sara Law - Daniel Buchanan - Daniel Weisman - Henry Davis - Franklin Mosley - Grace Davis - Jennie Judd - Dick McGann - Michael Pandolfo - Harry Easter - Cameron Sledjeski - Steve Sankey - Brent Hetherington - Kids - Virginia Mims, Jennie Judd - Salvation Army Girl/Nursemaid #1 - Amy Yarham - Salvation Army Girl/ Nursemaid #2 - Esther Atkinson
Esther Atkinson - August Bair - Ian Bolden - Melanie Burbules - Piotr Buszewski - Victor Cardamone - Benedetta Cordaro - Blake Ellege - Steele Fitzwater - Madison Hatten - Chelsea Helm - Brent Hetherington - Charlotte Jackson - Melina Jaharis - Jennie Judd - Sara Law - Timothy Madden - Virginia Mims - Anna Montgomery - Erin Moran - Franklin Mosely - Amanda Palmeiro - Michael Pandolfo - Taylor Rawley - Joel Rogier - Cameron Sledjeski - Darius Thomas - Adina Triolo - Daniel Weisman - Amy Yarham