About the Composer
“Kurt Weill was probably the most original single workman in the whole musical theater, internationally considered, in the past quarter century,” composer-critic Virgil Thomson wrote in his obituary assessment in 1950, shortly after Weill’s career was tragically cut short at age 50 by a heart attack. Indeed, by age 28, Weill had established himself in Germany, with a series of three one-act operas premiered in Dresden, Leipzig, and Berlin, as the foremost opera composer of his generation. His subsequent landmark collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, most notably The Threepenny Opera and Mahagonny, made him the enfant terrible of the avant-garde theater and persona non grata to the National Socialists. The son of a cantor, he would be among the first forced to flee in 1933, initially to Paris, where he wrote The Seven Deadly Sins, and then to New York to supervise his score for Max Reinhardt’s production of The Eternal Road. Its repeated postponements persuaded Weill to stay in America, and he debuted on Broadway with the Group Theatre’s production of Johnny Johnson in 1936.
In the U.S. he prided himself, as he had done in Europe, in recruiting as collaborators the leading playwrights and poets of his day, including Paul Green, Maxwell Anderson, Moss Hart, Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash, S.J. Perelman, Elmer Rice, Langston Hughes, and Alan Jay Lerner.
The mainstream success of Lady in the Dark and One Touch of Venus established Weill, according to New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson, as “the best writer of theater music in the country” and allowed him in his subsequent works to test the boundaries of the Broadway musical theater: Firebrand of Florence, a “Broadway operetta,” his only real “flop” on Broadway; Street Scene, a Broadway opera which garnered virtually unanimous raves, favorable comparisons with Porgy and Bess, and the very first Tony Award given to a composer on Broadway; Love Life, the first “concept musical,” pointing the way for the later work of Sondheim, Fosse, and Kander and Ebb. His final show was Lost in the Stars, a “musical tragedy” modeled on ancient Greek tragedy, that told an important story about racial segregation in South Africa as an obvious metaphor for racial injustice in the United States. As Thomson observed, “Every new work was a new model, a new shape, a new solution of dramatic problems.”
Insisting on orchestrating his own Broadway shows, except for a few “hot numbers” which he farmed out, Weill was virtually unique among Golden Age composers, and it took its toll. While Lost in the Stars was still running on Broadway, and shortly after he and Anderson had begun work on a musical version of Huckleberry Finn, Weill died suddenly on April 3, 1950. He was survived by his wife and foremost interpreter, Lotte Lenya, who devoted the rest of her life to promoting his works.
Hal Prince has assessed Weill’s significance on Broadway in the ‘40s: “Bringing his mittel-European origins to an America that was fervently naïve and optimistic, Weill, in collaboration with his American partners, created a hybrid voice—one more cynical, melancholy, and wistful than his peers on Broadway at the time.” As important as his Broadway works were, Weill’s most-performed work on the New York stage has been The Threepenny Opera, and Weill’s European works have exerted as much or more influence on the course of American musical theater, beginning with Cabaret, but then making an indelible mark on Chicago, Assassins, and Urinetown, to name just a few.
About the Artists
Richard Jay-Alexander began his theatrical career as an actor in New York in 1977 with the Broadway play, Zoot Suit. Followed by Amadeus, he went on to direct the National Tours and soon came to the attention of Cameron Mackintosh, working as a stage manager, dance captain, and assistant director of Oliver! and Song & Dance. He served as Associate Director and Executive Producer of the original Les Misérables and its subsequent U.S. and Canadian productions and worked on Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Five Guys Named Moe, as the Executive Producer, again leading the U.S. Tours and Canadian productions. Richard is probably best known for his years as Executive Director of Cameron Mackintosh, Inc., the producer’s North American Company. He matriculated into recordings and stage concerts, taking him to international venues with such artists as Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Ricky Martin, Lea Salonga, Il Divo, Il Volo, Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenoweth, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Betty Buckley, Jane Monheit, Donny & Marie, Melissa Errico, and many others. He is also a proud board member of BroadwayCares. This is Richard’s first time working with The Kurt Weill Foundation and Symphony Space and has enjoyed the artistry and level of excellence present in both organizations.
As President and Executive Director of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company, Ted Chapin has spearheaded over twenty award-winning Broadway and London revivals, as well as several film and TV movie remakes and numerous recordings. Chapin is past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Theater Wing, and was chairman of the Advisory Committee for New York City Center's Encores! series from its inception. In addition, he serves on the boards of New York City Center, Goodspeed Musicals and New Music USA. He has been a guest lecturer at NYU, Yale, Columbia, Lawrence University and St. Catherine’s College at Oxford. He was a Tony Awards nominator for two seasons, and is currently a member of the Tony Administration Committee. Prior to joining R&H, Chapin served as, among other things, musical director for the National Theatre of the Deaf, Associate Director of the National Theater Institute, and Producer of the Musical Theatre Lab in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. For three years, Chapin served as Associate to Alan Arkin which included Assistant Director on the original production of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys. By the time he graduated from Connecticut College in 1972, he had amassed more than five years of Broadway credits as production or directorial assistant. In 2003, he turned his observations working as the Production Assistant on the original production of the Stephen Sondheim/Harold Prince musical Follies into an award-winning book, Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical “Follies,” which was published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and in paperback by Applause Books.
James Holmes was Head of Music at Opera North in Leeds 1996-2008, having previously been on the music staff at English National Opera for over twenty years. Now a freelance conductor, accompanist and arranger, alongside his work in opera he has cultivated a lifelong enthusiasm for music theatre - notably Weill and Sondheim – with productions including Street Scene, Mahagonny, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Arms and the Cow, Seven Deadly Sins, One Touch of Venus (Opera North), Into The Woods, Songs From A Hotel Bedroom (ROH2), Street Scene (Berlin/arte DVD), I’m A Stranger Here Myself (BBC TV), One Touch of Venus, Down In The Valley. He was Associate Musical Director Carousel (Royal National Theatre), and conducted a widely-praised new production of the same show for Opera North last year. Concert/broadcast work includes appearances with the Halle, CBSO, Montreal Symphony, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, and the LSO with a wide spectrum of performers including Willard White, Sally Burgess , Antony and the Johnsons, and Grizzly Bear. He has been a regular assistant to Simon Rattle at Glyndebourne, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Salzburg and Aix Festivals. He has worked as arranger with leading British singers such as Lesley Garrett and Bryn Terfel both for recordings and concerts (including the BBC ‘Proms’). He was artist in residence for this year’s Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, and last December joined the Board of Trustees of the Kurt Weill Foundation. Future plans include a new production of The King and I at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris.
Le Train Bleu is a musical collective formed by conductor and flutist Ransom Wilson. The musicians are among the most exciting young players in New York, and are chosen for their brilliance as well as their expressive qualities. In the 2011-12season they were a resident ensemble at the Galapagos Art Space, where they presented a 3-concert series of new and interesting music. The New York Times said of their recent debut performance: “Under Mr. Wilson’s baton, the Train Bleu ensemble was both incisive and joyous in execution.” They collaborated with the Lar Lubovich Dance Company at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, and recorded their first album. Last season they presented their first New York series concert at DROM, performed at the River to River and Arts and Ideas festivals and joined forces with opera moderne for Viktor Ullman's posthumous masterpiece Der Kaiser von Atlantis. The 2013-14 season brings a week with the Lar Lubovich Dance Company, a Britten anniversary production with opera moderne, and two series concerts at DROM.
Ransom Wilson has long been recognized internationally as one of the greatest flutists of his generation. Of late he is turning increasingly to a career in orchestral and operatic conducting. He founded Solisti New York orchestra in 1981 and has been a member of the musical staff at the Metropolitan Opera since 2006. Additionally, he is Artistic Director and conductor of Le Train Bleu, which recently received rave reviews for its debut performance at New York City's innovative Galapagos Art Space. He has appeared as guest conductor with England’s London Symphony Orchestra and Hallé Orchestra, the Hermitage State Orchestra in Russia, the Cracow Philharmonic (Poland), KBS Symphony (South Korea), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (with Sir James Galway), Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, New Jersey Symphony, Budapest Strings, Hartford Symphony, and Berkeley Symphony. As flute soloist, he has appeared in concert with some of the greatest orchestras and artists of our time, including the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony, Frederica von Stade, Jessye Norman, Thomas Hampson, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Hilary Hahn, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Sir James Galway, Barry Douglas, Peter Frankl, Robin Sutherland, and many others. He is an Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, conductor of the orchestra at SUNY Purchase, and Professor of Flute at Yale University.
About the Singers
Brent Barrett is no stranger to the stages of Broadway, the West End, concery halls, recording studios, and television. Most recently he played Captain Hook, opposite Catherine Rigby's Peter Pan. He has returned numerous times to the Tony Award winning Chicago on Broadway in the role of Bill Flynn, for which he received a Los Angeles drama Critics Award. He played the phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular. Brent received an Olivier Award nominationfor his starring role in the London premiere of Kiss Me, Kate. Other Broadway roles include Tony in West Side Story, Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun opposite Reba McEntire, Charles Castleton in Dance a Little Closer, Baron Felix Von Gaigern in Grand Hotel, Maximillion in Candide, and Tommmy Albright in New York City Opera's Brigadoon. Brent originated the role of Hannibal Lecter in Silence! The Musical. Off -Broadway credits include Closer Than Ever, March of the Falsettos. Brent has received critical acclaim whenever he has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, The Royal Albert and Royal Festival Hall in London, with the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Minnesota Opera, Opera Pacific, Michigan Opera, Birmingham Symphony, and the Liceu Opera House in Barcelona. Brent is the founding member and producer of The Broadway Tenors. Solo albums include Christmas Mornings, The Alan Jay Lerner Album, and The Kander and Ebb Album. Other recordings include Brigadoon, Grand Hotel, Dance a Little Closer, Closer Than Ever, One Touch of Venus, and The Maury Yeston Songbook.
Judy Blazer began her career as a young singer in opera, oratorio, and recital in New York City and throughout Italy. She moved into Broadway theater with leading roles in Me and My Girl (Sally), A Change in the Heir (Prince Conrad), Titanic (Lady Caroline), Neil Simon’s 45 Seconds from Broadway (Cindy) and a major role in LoveMusik (Brecht’s mistress), directed by Harold Prince. Off-Broadway, she has appeared in Candide (the Old Lady) and Sweeney Todd (the Beggar Woman) with the New York City Opera, Hello Again (as the Nurse, for which she received a Drama Desk nomination) and The House of Bernarda Alba (Magdalena) for the Lincoln Center Theater, Richard Greenberg’s Hurrah at Last (Gia) at the Roundabout Theater, and the New York City Center Encores production of A Connecticut Yankee (Alice/Sandy). Judy has sung at the Metropolitan Opera as a soloist in Twyla Tharp’s Everlast with the American Ballet Theater and has performed in concert at Lincoln Center and the Public Theater in New York. Since 2004 she has starred as Bessie Thomashefsky in Michael Tilson Thomas’s touring concert documentary The Thomashefskys. She has been a guest on the recordings of Mandy Patinkin and the celebrated violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as well as a featured artist on over twenty recordings of varied genres.
Melissa Errico is always thrilled to sing at Symphony Space. She is currently shooting a recurring role on the new HBO drama The Knick starring Clive Owen, directed and produced by Stephen Soderbergh which will air in 2014. She will be appearing in two solo concerts at The Tilles Center on Long Island on October 18th, and at Wolf Trap on November 9th in a new solo concert called "A Passion For Broadway" directed by Richard Jay-Alexander. Last season, Melissa played Clara in the hit off-Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Passion, for which she was nominated for a 2013 Drama Desk Award. She has starred on Broadway in My Fair Lady, Dracula, High Society, White Christmas, Anna Karenina, and Amour (Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical), and toured as Cosette in Les Misérables. Off-Broadway: The Importance of Being Earnest, Major Barbara, Candida, Aunt Dan and Lemon. She has starred in Sunday in the Park with George at The Kennedy Center, as well as The Threepenny Opera at Williamstown. She has six Drama Desk Award nominations, 5 Outer Critics, and won the Lucille Lortel Award for her performance in One Touch of Venus at City Center. Solo recordings: Blue Like That (EMI), Lullabies and Wildflowers (VMG/UNIVERSAL), and her most recent Melissa Errico: Legrand Affair – The Music of Michel Legrand (Ghostlight Records). This year, she has appeared on CBS in strong guest roles on Blue Bloods and The Good Wife. Melissa is married to Patrick McEnroe and has three daughters.
Born and raised in Texas, Ron Raines attended Oklahoma City University and The Juilliard School. He has had a long and illustrious international career that spans the worlds of musical theater, opera, cabaret, classical music, and television. He most recently appeared as Ben in the critically acclaimed revival of Follies at The Kennedy Center, Broadway, and Los Angeles, for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. He was a three-time Emmy and Soap Opera Digest Award nominee for his role as the villain Alan Spaulding on Guiding Light. He has starred on Broadway in Chicago, Newsies, and Show Boat, and originated the role of Nick Longworth in Teddy and Alice (with Len Cariou). He has delighted audiences around the world with his memorable starring roles in virtually every major American musical and operetta, including A Little Night Music, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, South Pacific, Annie, Kismet, Sayonara, Kiss Me Kate, The King and I, Naughty Marietta, The Merry Widow, Brigadoon, Rose Marie, Oklahoma!, Carousel, Side by Side by Sondheim, Guys and Dolls, and Man of La Mancha at the Covent Garden Festival. He has soloed with over 50 major American and international orchestras, including the Boston Pops, the Philly Pops, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, and the Israel Philharmonic, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Tanglewood, the London Palladium, Rainbow and Stars, and the Royal Festival Hall. He has appeared on PBS “Great Performances,” and has made two solo recordings on Jay Records and numerous cast albums.
The Lotte Lenya Competition winners
Richard Todd Adams recently completed a three-year stint on the 25th Anniversary National Tour of Les Misérables, where he understudied the roles of Jean Valjean and Javert. A 2004 Lotte Lenya Competition winner, Richard has also toured the country with The Phantom of the Opera, first playing the role of Raoul, and in 2008, playing the role of The Phantom. On Broadway, he has appeared in The Woman in White and The Pirate Queen. Off-Broadway, he was seen in Little Fish at Second Stage, Listen to My Heart at Studio 54, and the 2000 revival of Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill. A proud graduate of The Juilliard School, he won the 2008 Jeff Award for his portrayal of Javert in Les Misérables at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre in Chicago. Regionally, he has starred in Jekyll and Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Ragtime, 2 Pianos, 4 Hands, 1776, Man of La Mancha, and Showboat.
Currently playing Joey in The Most Happy Fella at Goodspeed Opera House, Douglas Carpenter began his career in opera earning a degree in voice from UNLV and a Masters in Vocal Performance from UCLA. Since graduating, he originated roles in two Roger Bean productions, as Skip in Life Could Be A Dream (LA Weekly and LA Drama Critics Circle winner) and Curtis in Summer of Love (Musical Theatre West, Ogunquit Playhouse). Regional credits: Lancelot in Camelot (Pasadena Playhouse), Curly in Oklahoma! (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Fullerton Civic Light Opera), Tony in West Side Story (Fullerton Civic Light Opera), Thief in See What I Wanna See (Blank Theatre), Prince in Cinderella (Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities), Chris in Miss Saigon (Moonlight Amphitheatre), and Joey in The Most Happy Fella (Dallas Lyric Stage). New York theater: Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Doug is the only singer to win both the American Traditions Competition (2011) and the Lotte Lenya Competition (2013).
Cooper Grodin was born and raised in Manhattan where he attended the LaGuardia High School. He earned his BM in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his MM from the Manhattan School of Music. On stage he has performed the roles of Danny in Grease, Javert in Les Misérables, Mr. Snow in Carousel, Junious in The Rape of Lucretia, the Count in A Little Night Music, Pharoah in Joseph, Billy in Carousel, Governor Slaton in Parade, Combeferre in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of Les Misérables, and Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods at Shakespeare in the Park. Cooper has sung numerous concerts with the NY Philharmonic, Brooklyn Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. In 2006, he made his Carnegie Hall debut in Paul McCartney’s Ecce Cor Meum. He can be seen in such films as Music and Lyrics and Salt. He was an award winner in the 2010 Lotte Lenya Competition.
A bass-baritone in increasingly high demand, Justin Hopkins has performed for audiences around the world. Last season included his Carnegie Hall debut with the American Symphony Orchestra in a concert performance of Der Vampyr, as well as his London debut with the BBC Concert Orchestra at Queen Elizabeth Hall singing in A Stranger Here Myself: Kurt Weill On Broadway. On the opera stage, Mr. Hopkins has performed operas ranging from Mozart (Le Nozze Di Figaro, Verbier Festival) and Donizetti (Lucrezia Borgia, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie), to Philip Glass (Hydrogen Jukebox, Fort Worth Opera). This season will include his debut with the Boston Pops on a New England state tour under the direction of Keith Lockhart. He has had the honor of being requested to perform for various heads of state and dignitaries, notably a solo performance in 2009 for His Holiness The Dalai Lama in San Francisco. Mr. Hopkins was a winner of the 2012 Lotte Lenya Competition.
Zachary James created the role of Lurch in The Addams Family on Broadway and has also appeared on Broadway as Hassinger in Lincoln Center’s Tony Award winning revival of South Pacific and in Coram Boy. He has received industry praise for his performances as Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the lead role in Sweeney Todd, Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods, Abner in Li’l Abner, the Major General in The Pirates of Penzance and Petr in The Toymaker, among others. He has performed with Teatro Real Madrid, English National Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Idaho, Ash Lawn Opera, Knoxville Opera, American Lyric Theater, and Metropolis Opera Project. Zachary created the operatic roles of Abraham Lincoln in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Perfect American at the Teatro Real, Oberon in the world premiere of Kristin Hevner’s Il Sogno at the Teatro Citta della Pieve in Italy, Thomas Jefferson in Dana Wilson’s The Wolf by the Ears, and five roles in Andy Teirstein’s A Blessing on the Moon. Zachary graduated from the Musical Theatre program at Ithaca College and was a winner of the Lotte Lenya Competition in 2009. Upcoming engagements include Abraham Lincoln in The Perfect American with Opera Queensland and the Brisbane Festival and Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Idaho.
Analisa Leaming won Second Prize in the Lotte Lenya Competition in 2007, while still a senior at the Eastman School of Music. Since then, the Kurt Weill Foundation has provided great support and invaluable opportunities, most recently sending Ms. Leaming to Germany to perform in the Kurt Weill Festival for three weeks last spring. New York/Off-Broadway: Where's Charley? and Pipe Dream (Encores!), The Fartiste (Sophia's Downstairs). National/International Tours: Annie, The Sound of Music. Regional: Mabel in Pirates! (MUNY St. Louis), Marian in The Music Man (Geva Theatre), Amalia in She Loves Me (Infinity Theatre), Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly! (North Shore Music Theatre), and Emilie in The Game (Barrington Stage Company). Many, many thanks to the Kurt Weill Foundation, especially Carolyn Weber and Kim Kowalke.
Jacob Keith Watson is a native of Arkansas and a recent transplant to New York City. Some of his favorite roles include Feste in Twelfth Night, Horton in Seussical the Musical, Corin in As You Like It, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, Naphtali/Calypso Soloist in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Scranton Slim/M.C. in Guys and Dolls, Iago in Othello, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie. Recent awards include Second Prize in the 2012 Lotte Lenya Competition with the Kurt Weill Foundation, First Place in the first ever NATS National Musical Theater Competition, and Best Stage Presence/Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Jacob Keith was also seen on stage at the Kurt Weill Festival in 2013 as a featured soloist in the New York, New York concert series. Many thanks to the Kurt Weill Foundation for all they have done and continue to do!
Soprano Maren Weinberger is a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where she earned her Master of Music degree, and is currently studying voice with world-renowned voice teacher, Edith Bers. Maren has won several award and scholarship competitions, including Second Prize in the 2013 Lotte Lenya Competition, First Prize in the district level of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, and second place in the 2011 The Dallas Opera Guild competition. She is a 2013 young artist with NYC’s Opera Singers Initiative, where she has been mentored by leading opera professionals while also performing in various concerts throughout the year. She recently participated in a workshop with Ft. Worth Opera, singing the role of Mrs. Whatsit in Libby Larsen’s new opera A Wrinkle In Time.