On the Weill side of Venus
Opera North is reviving a "lost" work by the composer
THINK of Kurt Weill and what do you get? Cigarettes, dim lights, fishnets; Lotte Lenya or Ute Lemper; Berlin, Brecht, Communism, cabaret . . . Curiously, these clichés reflect the smallest part of his career, the three years he collaborated with Bertolt Brecht from 1927 to 1930, The Threepenny Opera, Mahagonny and the afterthought of The Seven Deadly Sins, a world (and musical style) pastiched and perpetuated by John Kander's musical, Cabaret.
It's hard to connect him with the composer, in 1946, of Street Scene, one of the great American operas, and of some tunes -- September Song, It Never Was You, Speak Low -- that are the essence of Americana. And in his musical One Touch of Venus he produced a riotous and exhilarating piece of Broadway to rank with any of the classic musicals of the 1940s. It was a smash in 1943 (starring Mary Martin) before vanishing completely and inexplicably after a bowdlerised 1948 film version with Ava Gardner.
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