This weekend October 21-23, Opera Chapman will perform selections from two of Kurt Weill’s masterworks at Musco Center for the Arts. The show consists of a compilation of arias and duets from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) and Street Scene, two of Weill’s masterpieces, performed in the most intimate of circumstances. The staging of the show is breathtaking. The audience sits on the Musco stage as the singers and musicians stand against closed curtains. Intimacy is the protagonist of the show. Within the first few numbers, the curtains are open, and the sublime view of the performance hall becomes the landscape to our singers.
Weill recognized his own work, particularly Street Scenes, as “American Opera”, which refers to a hybrid of the European Opera and the American Musical Theatre. Influenced by his collaborator Bertolt Brecht, Weill exposes a world of social and political satire, constantly demanding the audience to sympathize with his characters and understand the socio-cultural constructs that dictate their narrative. As a Jewish-German man living in the first half of the 20th century, Weill’s work remains groundbreaking and revolutionary.
“The great thing about Weill is the familiarity of his work. You think you recognize his melodies and feel comfortable, but suddenly he hits you with radical emotion and notions,” explains Ms. Madilyn Crossland, an opera student and publicist for Opera Chapman. “He shocks you, in a way.” Beyond the beauty of the seduction of the composer, the numbers are in English, which further eases an audience into the operatic embrace. “It’s a great way to attract audiences that are not accustomed to Opera,” Ms. Crossland continues. “There is no need to worry about translation and the production is heavily influenced by musical theatre, so there is something for everyone”.
Because of the nature of Weill’s work, the show demands a new challenge for our students. Aside from the extraordinary talent of our students, the event also counts with the wondrous work of famed stage director Nicola Bowie as the choreographer and guest-director, acclaimed soprano and our artist-in-residence Carol Neblett as the associate director, and our own Dr. Peter L. Atherton as the artistic director, elevating the performance to an evening of pure music and vocals matched by raw emotion and impeccable choreography. Through the groundbreaking and courageous work of a master, “Kurt Weill: After Dark” illustrates the uniqueness of opera and its relevance in today’s society as a medium that has the capacity to shock you, move you, and drive you to revolutionary action.
Opera Chapman presents:
Kurt Weill After Dark: A Cabaret-style Review
October 21 & 22 — 7:30pm
October 23 — 3:00pm
Musco Center for the Arts
Limited, onstage seating.
Tickets $15 general admission; $10 senior citizens, alumni and non-Chapman students; visit chapman.edu/tickets.