Lotte Lenya sings Kurt Weill's
The Seven Deadly Sins & Berlin
Queen of the Epic Theatre & Dark Cabaret #1
Levine, Lenya, Armstrong, Gilford, et al
Queen of the Epic Theatre & Dark Cabaret #2
Back in dark days of
the Age of the LP & Before The Flood, one of my most cherished LP was a two
album collection simply titled LOTTE LENYA. It contained a smashing collection
of the singer's selections from the pre-World War Two days in Germany, to later
work in the United States theatre scene. It was really wonderful &
contained great translations of all the German songs in a commemorative insert.
Alas, the album was washed away in the Flood. I made attempts to relocate a
replacement, but the original seemed to have completely vanished. Then, wonder
of wonders, Amazon was born & I thought I had discovered a CD version--with
the original cover photo of the Star--but it contents was nothing like the LP.
As a matter of fact it was very disappointing.
But then I started looking at other CD's a made a miraculous discovery: all the tunes & their original line-up were found on a compilation of 2 available CDs: LOTTE LENYA SINGS KURT WEIL SINGS KURT WEIL'S THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS & BERLIN THEATRE SONGS, and LOTTE LENYA SINGS KURT WEIL & AMERICAN THEATRE SONGS.
The only real difference between the CD's and the original LP was that they included other numbers (including the fantastic number What Would You Do? from Cabaret) and no translation material--but I'm sure it can be located somewhere on the web. Nonetheless, I felt like I got my baby back--well, something like that anyway.
This CD, LOTTE LENYA SINGS KURT WEIL & AMERICAN THEATRE SONGS, pretty much covers her American Theatre career. Selections 1-12 were on the original LP in that same order. It should be mentioned that many critics agree that Kurt Weill's work really suffered in the American theatre environment. Without the influence of Bertolt Brecht and the playwright's concept of Epic Theatre, Weill had to compromise & satisfy American artistic commercialism. So some of these songs aren't so hot--but the added German numbers compensate & the fact that they represent the legacy of the legendary Lotte Lenya, I still thinks this CD deserves 5 Stars.
Here's a few highlights:
"September Song" is a great American standard & Lenya's interpretation is still the best.
"Trouble Man" is a vocally demanding composition. You can actually hear the singer gasping for breath--and this only heightens the dramatic delivery of the song. It's wonderful.
"What Would You Do?" from Cabaret is effectively performed. It's a compassionate song about an elderly woman who, when confronted by a young idealist asking how she can just sit back when an evil regime begins to dominate society--admits to being afraid, but too old to do anything about it. It has a timely message.
Both CDs will have immense appear to people who love theatre, dark musicals, German cabaret, the German language, history, etc. I can't recommend this CD enough!
EPIC THEATER refers to playwright Bertolt Brechtís literary & theatrical style of presenting characters who represent social forces rather than individuals. The technique is based on the Marxist concept of historical materialism. This idea asserts that history is motivated by class struggle & that we live in the age of capitalism in decay Brecht remained in E. Germany after the fall of Berlin that ended World War II. He has often been castigated as an apologist for Stalin.