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Musique: Kurt Weill • Paroles: Bertolt Brecht • François Villon • Livret: Bertolt Brecht • Production originale: 16 versions mentionnées
Dispo: Résumé Génèse Liste chansons
Mendiants, voleurs, putains... plongée haute en couleurs dans les bas-fonds de Soho vers 1900, où brigands et bourgeois s’exploitent, rêvent et s’encanaillent. Peachum, qui fait de la pauvreté son fonds de commerce, s’enrichit sur le dos de faux mendiants s’évertuant à éveiller la compassion des passants.
Genèse: Fin 1927 Elisabeth Hauptmann traduit le Beggar's Opera () de John Gay (créé à Londres 200 ans auparavant, en 1728). Mars 1928 L’acteur Ernst Josef Aufricht, nouveau directeur du Theater am Schiffbauderdamm, demande à Brecht une création pour l’inauguration de la saison 1928/1929. Brecht propose l’adaptation du Beggar’s Opera (). Printemps 1928 Brecht travaille la traduction et l’adaptation du Beggar’s Opera () avec Elisabeth Hauptmann. Des titres envisagés puis rejetés: Racaille ou Les assassins sont parmi nous. Mai-Juin 1928 Brecht et Weill travaillent ensemble dans le Sud de la France. Mise au point du texte et de l'essentiel de la musique. 10 août Début des répétitions. 31 août 1928 Création (Theater am Schiffbauerdamm). Succès considérable. La pièce sera jouée continûment pendant plus d'un an. Octobre 1928 Première version imprimée du texte. Publication d'une édition séparée des songs (Les songs de l'Opéra de quat'sous). 1929 Première interprétation publique de la suite orchestrale Kleine Dreigroschen-Musik de Kurt Weill (au Berliner Staatsoper). 1931-1932 Remaniement de plusieurs chanson et corrections importantes (notamment l'ajout de Happy end). 1933-1934 Le Roman de quat'sous 1938 L'Opéra de quat'sous est remanié pour le volume 1 des Oeuvres réunies (éditions Malik, à Londres). 1948-1949 Nouvelle version de quelques scènes. 1949 Parution de nouveaux textes de chansons et textes réécrits entre 1946 et 1948. 1955 (25 octobre) En prévision d'une production de L'opéra de quat'sous au Piccolo Teatro de Milan, rencontre entre Bertolt Brecht et Giorgio Strehler. Leur entretien à propos de l'oeuvre et de sa mise en scène sera publié (notamment dans la revue Théâtre en Europe, en 1986). Brecht assistera à la première de cette production, en février 1956, quelques mois avant sa mort. «Strehler demande si Brecht pourrait proposer des moyens capables de donner en 1955 à L'Opéra de quat'sous la même force artistique et la même force critique qu'en 1928. Brecht répond qu’il rendrait plus aigus et plus mauvais les masques des criminels. Il faudrait sans doute chanter aussi bien que possible les chansons romantiques, mais en soulignant au maximum l’artifice et le mensonge de « cette tentative de création d'une île romantique où tout serait encore harmonieux».»
Résumé: Acte I Dans son "vestiaire à mendiants ", Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum reçoit la visite du jeune Charles Filch, un mendiant que ses hommes ont rossé la veille au motif qu’il officiait sans l’accord de la société Peachum. Filch est engagé par Peachum, qui lui explique son métier. Arrive Célia, l'épouse de Peachum : celui-ci s’inquiète car sa fille Polly, amoureuse, pourrait échapper à l'emprise paternelle. Il comprend que le prétendant de Polly n'est autre que Mackie le Surineur. Et s'inquiète : Polly n’est toujours pas rentrée à la maison. Dans une écurie, mariage de Polly et Mackie, en présence de la bande de Mackie. Cadeaux, chansons. Arrive le shérif Brown, ami de Macheath ; celui-ci le présente à ses hommes. Chez Peachum. Polly avise ses parents qu’elle est l’épouse de Macheath. Peachum se désole de la perte de revenus qu’entraîne ce départ. Arrivent cinq mendiants qui se plaignent, – Peachum en renvoie deux. Dispute entre Polly et ses parents : ceux-ci annoncent qu’ils vont dénoncer Macheath au shérif, Tiger Brown. Acte II Polly apprend à son mari que Brown et Peachum ont décidé de l’arrêter. Macheath doit partir. Il met Polly au courant de ses affaires, l'informe de la liquidation prochaine de sa société et de ses associés. Arrivée de la bande : ils acceptent Polly comme chef. Départ de Macheath : séparation lyrique, il promet de ne pas tromper son épouse. De son côté, Jenny des Lupanars accepte, pour 10 shillings promis par Madame Peachum, de dénoncer Macheath. Arrivée impromptue de Macheath au bordel de Jenny. Première arrestation de Macheath (par Jenny et le shérif Brown). En prison : Brown se désespère de devoir faire souffrir son ami. Mackie tâche de corrompre son gardien. Lucy, fille de Brown, vient apprendre à Mackie qu’elle est enceinte (de lui). Arrivée de Polly : les deux femmes se disputent. Macheath prend le parti de Lucy et chasse Polly. Puis il s’échappe ; Brown se réjouit de sa fuite. Arrive Peachum qui menace le shérif, et finit par le contraindre à partir à la recherche de Mackie. Acte III Chez Peachum : Peachum prépare une manifestation des mendiants pendant le couronnement de la reine. Arrivent les putains de Jenny, qui viennent réclamer leur dû pour la dénonciation de Macheath. Peachum refuse de les payer, puisque Macheath s’est enfui. Dans la conversation, Jenny indique le lieu où se trouve à présent Mackie. Brown arrive, décidé à arrêter Peachum et les mendiants. Mais Peachum parvient à intimider le commissaire, qui se résout, cette fois encore, à partir à la recherche de Macheath. Dans la chambre de Lucy, à la prison d'Old Bailey. Réconciliation avec Polly. La grossesse de Lucy était simulée. Macheath est repris. Vendredi, 5 heures du matin, à la prison. L’exécution doit avoir lieu avant 6 heures. S'il veut échapper à la pendaison, Macheath a besoin d’argent. Visite de deux de ses hommes, Mathias et Jacob, qui partent chercher la somme nécessaire. Visite de Polly, de Brown. L’exécution est imminente. Mais soudain, Peachum annonce au public un autre dénouement : arrivée à cheval du héraut du roi (qui n'est autre que Brown). Macheath sera relâché et anobli, à l’occasion des fêtes du couronnement.
Création: 31/8/1928 - Theater am Schiffbauerdamm (Berlin) - représ.
Musique: Kurt Weill • Paroles: Livret: Bertolt Brecht • Production originale: 1 version mentionnée
Dispo: Résumé Génèse Liste chansons
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (« Grandeur et décadence de la ville de Mahagonny ») est un spectacle musical de Bertolt Brecht et Kurt Weill, qui est devenu un opéra en trois actes. Il a été créé le 9 mars 1930 à Leipzig.
Genèse: Weill was asked by the 1927 Baden-Baden music festival committee to write a one act chamber opera for the festival. He ended up writing Mahagonny-Songspiel, sometimes known as Das kleine Mahagonny, a concert work for voices and small orchestra commissioned. The work was written in May 1927, and performed in June. The eleven numbers, which include the "Alabama Song" and "Benares Song", were duly incorporated into the full opera as Weill worked through summer and autumn on the libretto. The opera had its premiere in Leipzig on 9 March 1930 and played in Berlin in December of the following year. The opera was banned by the Nazis in 1933 and did not have a significant production until the 1960s. Weill's score uses a number of styles, including rag-time, jazz and formal counterpoint, notably in the "Alabama Song" (which has been interpreted by a range of artists, notably Ute Lemper, The Doors and David Bowie). Performance history It has played in opera houses around the world. Never achieving the popularity of Weill and Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, Mahagonny is still considered a work of stature with a haunting score. Herbert Lindenberger in his book Opera in History, for example, views Mahagonny alongside Schoenberg's Moses und Aron as indicative of the two poles of modernist opera. Following the Leipzig premiere, the opera was presented in Berlin in December 1931 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm conducted by Alexander von Zemlinsky with Lotte Lenya as Jenny, Trude Hesterberg as Begbick, and Harald Paulsen as Jimmy. Another production was presented in January 1934 in Copenhagen at the Det ny Teater. Other productions within Europe waited until the end of the Second World War, some notable ones being in January 1963 in London at Sadler's Wells Opera conducted by Colin Davis and in Berlin in September 1977 by the Komische Oper. It was not presented in the United States until 1970, when a short-lived April production at the Phyllis Anderson Theatre off Broadway starred Barbara Harris as Jenny, Frank Porretta as Jimmy, and Estelle Parsons as Begbick. It was then presented in Boston in 1973 under the direction of Sarah Caldwell. A full version was presented at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1974, with Gilbert Price as Jimmy and Stephanie Cotsirilos as Jenny. Kurt Kasznar played Moses. The libretto was performed in an original translation by Michael Feingold; the production was directed by Alvin Epstein. In October 1978, Yale presented a "chamber version" adapted and directed by Keith Hack, with John Glover as Jimmy and June Gable as Begbick. Mark Lynn-Baker played Fatty; Michael Gross was Trinity Moses. In November 1979, Mahagonny debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in a John Dexter production conducted by James Levine. The cast included Teresa Stratas as Jenny, Astrid Varnay as Begbick, Richard Cassilly as Jimmy, Cornell MacNeil as Moses, Ragnar Ulfung as Fatty and Paul Plishka as Joe. The production was televised in 1979 and was released on DVD in 2010. The Los Angeles Opera presented the opera in September 1989 under conductor Kent Nagano and with a Jonathan Miller production. Other notable productions in Europe from the 1980s included the March 1986 presentation by the Scottish Opera in Glasgow; a June 1990 production in Florence by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. In October 1995 and 1997, the Paris Opera staged by Graham Vick, under the baton of Jeffrey Tate starring Marie McLaughlin as Jenny, Felicity Palmer (1995) and Kathryn Harries (1997) as Begbick, and Kim Begley (1995)/Peter Straka (1997) as Jimmy. The July 1998 Salzburg Festival production featured Catherine Malfitano as Jenny, Gwyneth Jones as Begbick, and Jerry Hadley as Jimmy. The Vienna State Opera added it to its repertoire in January 2012 in a production by Jérôme Deschamps conducted by Ingo Metzmacher starring Christopher Ventris as Jimmy and Angelika Kirchschlager as Jenny, notably casting young mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Kulman as Begbick, breaking the tradition of having a veteran soprano (like Varnay or Jones) or musical theater singer (like Patti LuPone) perform the role. Productions within the US have included those in November 1998 by the Lyric Opera of Chicago directed by David Alden. Catherine Malfitano repeated her role as Jenny, while Felicity Palmer sang Begbick, and Kim Begley sang the role of Jimmy. The Los Angeles Opera's February 2007 production directed by John Doyle and conducted by James Conlon included Audra McDonald as Jenny, Patti LuPone as Begbick, and Anthony Dean Griffey as Jimmy. This production was recorded on DVD, and subsequently won the 2009 Grammy Awards for "Best Classical Album" and "Best Opera Recording." In 2014 it was performed using an alternate libretto as a "wrestling opera" at the Oakland Metro by the performers of Hoodslam. A major new production will have its world premiere in July 2019 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen with stage direction by Ivo van Hove. It is a co-production of Dutch National Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, and Les Theatres De La Ville De Luxembourg. It will be fully staged in New York and Amsterdam in future seasons.
Résumé: Act 1 Scene 1: A desolate no-man's land A truck breaks down. Three fugitives from justice get out and find themselves in the city of Mahagonny: Fatty the Bookkeeper, Trinity Moses, and Leocadia Begbick. Because the federal agents pursuing them will not search this far north, and they are in a good location to attract ships coming south from the Alaskan gold fields, Begbick decides that they can profit by staying where they are and founding a pleasure city, where men can have fun, because there is nothing else in the world to rely on. Alabama Song Excerpt from the "Alabama Song" as sung in act 1, scene 2 Problems playing this file? See media help. Scene 2 The news of Mahagonny spreads quickly, and sharks from all over flock to the bait, including the whore Jenny Smith, who is seen, with six other girls, singing the "Alabama Song", in which she waves goodbye to her home and sets out in pursuit of whiskey, dollars and pretty boys. Scene 3 In the big cities, where men lead boring, purposeless lives, Fatty and Moses spread the gospel of Mahagonny, city of gold, among the disillusioned. Scene 4 Four Alaskan Lumberjacks who have shared hard times together in the timberlands and made their fortunes set off together for Mahagonny. Jimmy Mahoney and his three friends – Jacob Schmidt, Bank Account Billy, and Alaska Wolf Joe – sing of the pleasures awaiting them in "Off to Mahagonny", and look forward to the peace and pleasure they will find there. Scene 5 The four friends arrive in Mahagonny, only to find other disappointed travelers already leaving. Begbick, well-informed about their personal tastes, marks down her prices, but for the penurious Billy they still seem too high. Jimmy impatiently calls for the girls of Mahagonny to show themselves, so he can make a choice. Begbick suggests Jenny as the right girl for Jack, who finds her rates too high. She pleads with Jack to reconsider ("Havana Song"), which arouses Jim's interest, and he chooses her. Jenny and the girls sing a tribute to "the Jimmys from Alaska." Scene 6 Jimmy and Jenny get to know one another as she asks him to define the terms of their contact: Does he wish her to wear her hair up or down, to wear fancy underwear or none at all? "What is your wish?" asks Jim, but Jenny evades answering. Scene 7 Begbick, Fatty and Moses meet to discuss the pleasure city's financial crisis: People are leaving in droves, and the price of whiskey is sinking rapidly. Begbick suggests going back to civilization, but Fatty reminds her that the federal agents have been inquiring for her in nearby Pensacola. Money would solve everything, declares Begbick, and she decides to soak the four new arrivals for all they've got. Scene 8 Jimmy, restless, attempts to leave Mahagonny, because he misses the wife he left in Alaska. Scene 9 In front of the Rich Man's Hotel, Jimmy and the others sit lazily as a pianist plays Tekla Bądarzewska's "A Maiden's Prayer". With growing anger, Jimmy sings of how his hard work and suffering in Alaska have led only to this. Drawing a knife, he shouts for Begbick, while his friends try to disarm him and the other men call to have him thrown out. Calm again, he tells Begbick that Mahagonny can never make people happy: it has too much peace and quiet. Scene 10 As if in answer to Jimmy's complaint, the city is threatened by a typhoon. Everyone sings in horror of the destruction awaiting them. Scene 11 Tensely, people watch for the hurricane's arrival. The men sing a hymn-like admonition not to be afraid. Jim meditatively compares Nature's savagery to the far greater destructiveness of Man. Why do we build, he asks, if not for the pleasure of destroying? Since Man can outdo any hurricane, fear makes no sense. For the sake of human satisfaction, nothing should be forbidden: If you want another man's money, his house or his wife, knock him down and take it; do what you please. As Begbick and the men ponder Jimmy's philosophy, Fatty and Moses rush in with news: The hurricane has unexpectedly struck Pensacola, destroying Begbick's enemies, the federal agents. Begbick and her cohorts take it as a sign that Jimmy is right; they join him, Jenny, and his three friends in singing a new, defiant song: If someone walks over someone else, then it's me, and if someone gets walked on, then it's you. In the background, the men continue to chant their hymn as the hurricane draws nearer. Act 2 Scene 12 Magically, the hurricane bypasses Mahagonny, and the people sing in awe of their miraculous rescue. This confirms Begbick's belief in the philosophy of "Do what you want," and she proceeds to put it into effect. Jacob Schmidt's departure Jacob Schmidt is gorging himself on food and is about to die in act 2, scene 13 Problems playing this file? See media help. Scene 13 At the renovated "Do It" tavern. The men sing of the four pleasures of life: Eating, Lovemaking, Fighting and Drinking. First comes eating: To kitschy cafe music, Jimmy's friend Jacob gorges until he keels over and dies. The men sing a chorale over his body, saluting "a man without fear". Scene 14: Loving. While Begbick collects money and issues tips on behavior, Moses placates the impatient men queuing to make love to Jenny and the other whores. The men sing the "Mandalay Song", warning that love does not last forever, and urging those ahead of them to make it snappy. Scene 15: Fighting. The men flock to see a boxing match between Trinity Moses and Jim's friend Alaska Wolf Joe. While most of the men, including the ever-cautious Billy, bet on the burly Moses, Jim, out of friendship, bets heavily on Joe. The match is manifestly unfair; Moses not only wins but kills Joe in knocking him out. Scene 16: Drinking. In an effort to shake off the gloom of Joe's death, Jimmy invites everyone to have a drink on him. The men sing "Life in Mahagonny", describing how one could live in the city for only five dollars a day, but those who wanted to have fun always needed more. Jim, increasingly drunk, dreams of sailing back to Alaska. He takes down a curtain rod for a mast and climbs on the pool table, pretending it is a ship; Jenny and Billy play along. Jimmy is abruptly sobered up when Begbick demands payment for the whiskey as well as for the damage to her property. Totally broke, he turns in a panic to Jenny, who explains her refusal to help him out in the song "Make your own bed" – an adaptation of the ideas he proclaimed at the end of act 1. Jim is led off in chains as the chorus, singing another stanza of "Life in Mahagonny", returns to its pastimes. Trinity Moses assures the crowd that Jimmy will pay for his crimes with his life. Scene 17 At night, Jim alone and chained to a lamppost, sings a plea for the sun not to rise on the day of his impending trial. Act 3 Scene 18: In the courtroom Moses, like a carnival barker, sells tickets to the trials. He serves as prosecutor, Fatty as defense attorney, Begbick as judge. First comes the case of Toby Higgins, accused of premeditated murder for the purpose of testing an old revolver. Fatty invites the injured party to rise, but no one does so, since the dead do not speak. Toby bribes all three, and as a result, Begbick dismisses the case. Next Jimmy's case is called. Chained, he is led in by Billy, from whom he tries to borrow money; Billy of course refuses, despite Jim's plea to remember their time together in Alaska. In virtually the same speech he used to attack Higgins, Moses excoriates him for not paying his bills, for seducing Jenny (who presents herself as a plaintiff) to commit a "carnal act" with him for money, and for inciting the crowd with "an illegal joyous song" on the night of the typhoon. Billy, with the chorus's support, counters that, in committing the latter act, Jimmy discovered the laws by which Mahagonny lives. Moses argues that Jim hastened his friend Joe's death in a prizefight by betting on him, and Billy counters by asking who actually killed Joe. Moses does not reply. But there is no answer for the main count against him. Jim gets short sentences for his lesser crimes, but for having no money, he is sentenced to death. Begbick, Fatty and Moses, rising to identify themselves as the injured parties, proclaim "in the whole human race / there is no greater criminal / than a man without money". As Jim is led off to await execution, everyone sings the "Benares Song", in which they long for that exotic city "where the sun is shining." But Benares has been destroyed by an earthquake. "Where shall we go?" they ask. Scene 19: At the gallows Jim says a tender goodbye to Jenny, who, dressed in white, declares herself his widow. He surrenders her to Billy, his last remaining companion from Alaska. When he tries to delay the execution by reminding the people of Mahagonny that God exists, they play out for him, under Moses' direction, the story of "God in Mahagonny", in which the Almighty condemns the town and is overthrown by its citizens, who declare that they can not be sent to Hell because they are already in Hell. Jim, chastened, asks only for a glass of water, but is refused even this as Moses gives the signal for the trap to be sprung. Scene 20 A caption advises that, after Jim's death, increasing hostility among the city's various factions has caused the destruction of Mahagonny. To a potpourri of themes from earlier in the opera, groups of protesters are seen on the march, in conflict with one another, while the city burns in the background. Jenny and the whores carry Jim's clothing and accessories like sacred relics; Billy and several men carry his coffin. In a new theme, they and the others declare, "Nothing you can do will help a dead man". Begbick, Fatty and Moses appear with placards of their own, joining the entire company in its march and declaring "Nothing will help him or us or you now," as the opera ends in chaos.
Création: 9/3/1930 - Neues Theater (Leipzig) - représ.
Musique: Alex North • Hanns Eisler • Jerome Moross • Paroles: Livret: Bertolt Brecht • Production originale: 1 version mentionnée
Dispo: Résumé Génèse Isnpiration
Genèse: The pro-Communist play with music Mother was a left-wing diatribe produced by The Theatre Union, Inc., which earlier had been associated with the equally left-wing Parade. Paul Peters had been one of the cowriters of that revue, and here he served as the adaptor of Bertolt Brecht’s play, which had originally opened in Berlin in 1932 and had been based on Maxim Gorky’s 1906 novel The Mother. Peters was also a member of the Theatre Union’s executive board, and a note in the program sidestepped or at least glossed over the company’s mission by stating it presented “social theatre,” a term that seems too clever by half. The notes further stated the company’s repertoire dealt “boldly” with “deep-going social conflicts” relating to the lives of the “great mass of working people.” The play was presented downtown at the Civic Repertory Theatre, and the price of tickets ranged from thirty cents to $1.50.
Résumé: The story focused on Pelagea Vlasova (Helen Henry), the title character, who fears for her son’s safety when he becomes involved with the radical left. But she soon comes to embrace his beliefs and waves high the banner of the red flag, and after his death in a political fracas she’s even more determined to foment revolution.
Création: 19/11/1935 - Civic Repertory Theatre (Broadway) - 36 représ.