Music: Kurt Weill Lyrics: Bertolt Brecht Piano: Jori Schulze-Reimpell
“The Threepenny Opera” premiered on August 31st 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin and instantly became a hit. Theaters all over Germany announced that they would include the play in their repertoire. Weill, Elisabeth Hauptmann and Bertolt Brecht had worked on the opera from May to September. It was orchestrated for a seven-piece jazz band, common in Berlin at the time (At the premiere the Lewis Ruth Band, conducted by Theo Mackeben). Three songs from The Threepenny Opera were cut before the premiere: Rosa Valetti rejected the “Ballade der sexuellen Hörigkeit” (The Ballad of the Sexual Dependance) because of its daring lyrics. The “Song of Solomon” as well as the “Lucy’s Aria” had been removed because the performer Kate Kühls was vocally incapable of performing it. In November 1932 Weill published this pseudo-aria in “Die Musik 25, No.2”, without ever having orchestrated it.
Jenny’s Song “Wie man sich bettet, so liegt man” from the opera “Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny” (1930) Music: Kurt Weill Lyrics: Bertolt Brecht Piano: Jori Schulze-Reimpell
In mid-March 1927, Weill was commissioned by the Baden-Baden Chamber Music Festival to compose a short opera. He decided to set some “Mahagonny-songs” from Bertolt Brecht’s “Die Hauspostille” to music. The song play premiered with the name “Mahagonny” on July 17th during the German Chamber Music Festival in Baden-Baden. Eventually, the complete opera “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” premiered on March 9th 1930 at the New Theater in Leipzig, directed by Walther Brügmann, but disrupted by right-wing protesters. Later performances only took place with police protection. The press, influenced by the National Socialist party, advocated censorship of the work. As a result, the planned performances in Essen, Oldenburg and Dortmund had been canceled. The piece wasn’t performed until July 12th in Prague. The next performance in Frankfurt on October 16th had been massively disrupted by Nazis again. Weill however didn’t interpret this incident in any way as criticism of his work but as criticism of him as a Jewish composer. On December 21st he was one of numerous famous artists who participated in an article in the “General-Anzeiger” in Dortmund which pointed out the growing danger through the Nazis.