Tag Archives: 1946

Nr 452: Street Scene (1946)

21 Sep

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Street Scene (1946)

Produktioner i urval:
1947: Broadway, 148 föreställningar
1989: English National Opera (ENO)
1990: New York City Opera

Music: Kurt Weill
Lyrics: Langston Hughes
Book: Elmer Rice, baserad på hans pjäs med samma namn från 1929

The opera takes place on the doorstep of a tenement on the East Side of Manhattan on two brutally hot days in 1946. The story focuses on two plotlines: the romance between Rose Maurrant and her neighbor Sam Kaplan; and on the extramarital affair of Rose’s mother, Anna, which is eventually discovered by Rose’s irritable father, Frank. The show portrays the ordinary romances, squabbles and gossips of the neighbors, as the mounting tensions involving the Maurrant family eventually build into a tragedy of epic proportions.

Skvaller, lekande barn, vardag, examensfest, kärlekspar, barnafödande, spirande romanser, förförelse, passionerad kärlek, otrohet, besvikelser och slutligen mord. Kontrasterna är många och det är tvära kast mellan de olika små berättelserna som samsas och utspelar sig framför några hyreshus i New York i denna opera/musikal.  
Weill kallade själv verket för en amerikansk opera och med det menade han att den innehöll element både från traditionell europeisk opera och amerikansk musikal. 
Det är en skickligt skriven berättelse som trots den fragmenterade berättarstilen lyckas skapa spänning och begripliga handlingsbågar för alla intriger som ska samsas. 

Musiken pendlar mellan Pucciniliknande arior, duetter, sextetter och ensembler och blues, jazz och ett par rena Broadwaynummer varav den ena även innehåller verkets enda riktiga dansnummer. Just det numret Moon-faced, Starry-eyed är ett kul nummer men sticker ut lite för mycket från alla andra nummer och känns nästan mer ditlagd för oss musikalare som inte är operafrälsta. Fast å andra sidan så är väl just den livsglädje, sexualitet och humor som det paret visar upp en bra kontrast mot den gråare, tråkigare vardag som de andra i huset lever i, så den har en funktion att fylla.

Jag personligen är inte helt förtjust i musikaler som behöver framföras av operasolister men tycker ändå att musiken i just denna opera – för ja, den bör ses mer som opera än musikal och den sätts numera endast upp av operahus – är ovanligt dynamisk, melodiös och intressant och fungerar även för en sån som mig.

Kommer kanske inte att återvända till detta verk så ofta men om och när jag gör det så kommer jag nog gå direkt till favoriter som What Good Would the Moon Be, Ice Cream Sextett, I Got a Marble and a Star, Wouldn’t You Like To Be on Broadway, Lonely House, Moon faced – Starry eyed och… Woops, det finns visst rätt mycket musik som jag gillar här så kanske att jag kommer lyssna igenom hela verket ett par gånger till i alla fall.

Har varit dålig på att lyssna på Weills verk hitintills men har plötsligt börjat plöja igenom både hans tidiga tyska sceniska verk och hans amerikanska musikaler och upptäckt en mirakulöst bra och varierad kompositör.
Hur jag inte har kunnat förstå hans storhet förrän nu är lite förbluffande för mig.
Men nu när jag har upptäckt honom så kan jag bara konstatera att han genast har placerat sig bland mina absoluta favorit kompositörer.
Vill ni höra bra och spännande scenisk musik? Då kan jag numera säga att ni kan aldrig gå fel med Weill!
Så är det och om ni inte känner till honom så har ni en fantastisk och fantastiskt varierad kompositör att upptäcka!

Kuriosa:
Den första Tony Awardsgalan hölls 1947 och Kurt Weill var den första kompositör som fick priset för Best Original Score. Street Scene vann även en Tony för bästa kostym.

Kurt skrev alltid orkestreringarna till sina verk själv. Något som var väldigt ovanligt för en kompositör att göra på Broadway på denna tid.

Press:
Add to the text of Elmer Rice’s Street Scene a fresh and eloquent score by Kurt Weill and you have a musical play of magnificence and glory. 


Now, Mr Weill, the foremost music maker in the American theatre, has found notes to express the myriad impulses of Mr. Rice’s poem and transmuted it into a sidewalk opera.

In these songs, and in the omninous orchestrations (by Weill) that accent the basic moods of the drama, Mr Weill is writing serious music enkindled by the excitement of New York.
– Brooks Atkinson, Times

From Elmer Rice’s bitter and compassionate dram, Mr. Rice, Langston Hughes, and Kurt Weill have made a moving, remarable opera – a work of great individuality which makes no compromise with the Broadway formula. The authors call their work a dramatic musical, but it may well be called a metropolitan opera…

Street Scene is a far from ordinary event in the theatre, and I salute the courage, imagination, and skill of those who have made it.
– John Chapman, Daily News

Curiously enough, though the evening is in general a success, Mr. Weill’s music, judged by its precise intentions, is partly a failure.

Some of it is rather pretentious, and some of it as facilely florid as movie music. Moreover, Mr Weill has given musical expression to a good deal of fairly casual dialogue … Going by results, Street Scene, would have been better off had some things that are sung been spoken.
– Louis Kronenberger, PM

Elmer Rice’s famous play, Street Scene, represented a kind of historic peak in the drama of sheer, meticulous realism. There can certainly be no question of the musical version’s fidelity. It may, as a matter of fact, be too faithful for its own good. At least, the current Street Scene is certainly at its best when it forgets about its loftier ambitions and gets around to being a good Broadway musical show, proud and unashamed.
– Richard Watts Jr., Post

Video:
Lonely House
What Good Would the Moon Be?
Moon-faced, Starry-eyed
Ice Cream Sextet

 

Annonser

Nr 415: Annie Get Your Gun

7 Nov


Annie Get Your Gun (1946)

Music & Lyrics: Irving Berlin
Book: Dorothy Fields, Herbert Fields löst baserad på Annie Oakleys (1860-1926) liv och hennes romans och äktenskap med Frank E. Butler (1847- 1926).

Uppsättningar i urval:

Broadway 1946, 1 147 föreställningar
West End 1947, 1 304 föreställningar
Göteborg 1949
Stockholm 1949
Broadway revival 1966

Scandinavium 1973
Broadway revival 1999, 1 045 föreställningar

SäffleOperan 2012

Rough-and-tumble Annie Oakley is the best shot around. A backwoods gal, Annie uses her skill to support her family by selling the game she hunts. When she’s discovered by Buffalo Bill and persuaded to join his Wild West Show, Annie is plucked from obscurity and becomes the toast of Europe.
Annie meets her match in Frank Butler, Buffalo Bill’s leading man and star marksman. She falls head over heels for Frank, but soon eclipses him as the main attraction in the show. Her success with a gun makes trouble for Annie’s chance at romance.
The show follows the journey of Annie and Frank, revealing their competitive natures as they vie for best shot – and each other’s hearts.

A real classic with a ton of well known songs like  Anything You Can Do, You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun and the biggest show anthem of them all: There’s No Business Like Show Business.

Kuriosa:
Dorothy Fields had the idea for a musical about Annie Oakley, to star her friend, Ethel Merman.
Producer Mike Todd turned the project down, so Fields approached a new producing team, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. After the success of their first musical collaboration, Oklahoma!, Rodgers and Hammerstein had decided to become producers of both their own theatrical ventures and those by other authors.They agreed to produce the musical and asked Jerome Kern to compose the music; Fields would write the lyrics, and she and her brother Herbert would write the book.
Kern, who had been composing for movie musicals in Hollywood, returned to New York on November 2, 1945 to begin work on the score to Annie Get Your Gun, but three days later, he collapsed on the street due to a cerebral hemorrhage. Kern was hospitalized, and he died on November 11, 1945.
The producers and Fields then asked Irving Berlin to write the musical’s score; Fields agreed to step down as lyricist, knowing that Berlin preferred to write both music and lyrics to his songs. Berlin initially declined to write the score, worrying that he would be unable to write songs to fit specific scenes in ”a situation show.”  Hammerstein persuaded him to study the script and try writing some songs based on it, and within days, Berlin returned with the songs Doin’ What Comes Naturally, You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun, and There’s No Business Like Show Business. Berlin’s songs suited the story and Ethel Merman’s abilities, and he readily composed the rest of the score to Annie Get Your Gun
The show’s eventual hit song, There’s No Business Like Show Business, was almost left out of the show because Berlin mistakenly got the impression that Richard Rodgers did not like it.
In imitation of the structure of Oklahoma! a secondary romance between two of the members of the Wild West Show was added to the musical during its development. This romance, including their songs I’ll Share it All With You and Who Do You Love, I Hope?, was eliminated for the 1966 revival. 

For the 1999 revival, Peter Stone revised the libretto, eliminating what were considered insensitive references to American Indians, including the songs Colonel Buffalo Bill and I’m An Indian Too. Stone said, ”The big challenge is taking a book that was wonderfully crafted for its time and make it wonderfully crafted for our time… It was terribly insensitive…to Indians…. But it had to be dealt with in a way that was heartfelt and not obvious… In this case, it was with the permission of the heirs. They’re terribly pleased with it.” 
Stone also altered the structure of the musical, beginning it with There’s No Business Like Show Business and presenting the musical as a ”show within a show”.

An Old-Fashioned Wedding skrevs till revivaln 1966 och är en typsik Berlin sång i kontrapunkt.

I Sverige har bl a Ulla Sallert, Lill-Babs och Pernilla Wahlgren spelat Annie.

Judy Garland skulle ha spelat Annie i filmversionen från början men hon kom inte överens med varken regissören George Sidney eller koreografen Busby Berkeley och markerade sin ovilja genom att komma för sent varje dag  och sen jobba halvhjärtat och oengagerat när hon väl var på plats. Det ledde till att hon fick sparken från produktionen och ersattes med Betty Hutton.

Originalversionen i London spelades 150 föreställningar längre än originalet på Broadway. Showen gjorde Dolores Grey till stor stjärna där.

Annie Get Your Gun var den andra musikalen att passera 1000 föreställningar gränsen på Broadway. Den första var Oklahoma (1943).

 

Press:
För originaluppsättningen på Broadway.

Annie is a good, standard, lavish, big musical and I’m sure it will be a huge success – but it isn’t the greatest show in the world.
– John Chapman, Daily News

Ethel Merman shot a bull’s eye last night withe Annie Get Your Gun. For verve and buoyancy, unslackening, there has seldom if ever been a show like it. It would not be a bad idea to declare an annual Merman Day of all May 16ths in the future.
– William Hawkins, World-Telegram

The show is cheerful, but very far from overpowering. It’s a big Broadway show, in all ways professional, in many ways routine.

It knows its formula, and sticks to it like a well-raised baby. If the show hasn’t a trace of style, at least it hasn’t a trace of artiness. It has size, a primary-colors picturesqueness, the kind of organized activity which can pass for pep.

Irving Berlin’s score is musically not exciting – of the real songs, only one or two are tuneful. But Mr. Berlin has contrived a nukber of pleasant ditties and has laced them with lyrics that, if seldom witty, are almost always brisk.
– Louis Kronenberger, PM

Irving Berlin’s score is not a notable one, but his tunes are singable and pleasant and his lyrics are particulary good. The book? It’s on the flimsy side, definitely. And rather witless, too. But in the case of Annie Get Your Gun a listless story won’t matter a great deal. Somehow in shows as big as this, such a fault is sometimes blithely overlooked.
– Ward Morehouse, Sun

It has a pleasant score by Irving Berlin and it has Ethel Merman to roll her eyes and to shout down the rafters. The colors are pretty, the dancing is amiable and unaffected, and Broadway by this time is well used to a book which doesn’t get anywhere in particular. Annie, in short, is an agreeable evening on the town, and it takes little gift for prophecy to add that it, and she, will chant their saga of sharp-shooting for many months to come. If there are abrupt pauses with some frequency – well, Miss Merman must change costumes.
– Lewis Nichols, Times

Irving Berlin has outdone himself this time. No use trying to pick a hit tune, for all the tunes are hits.

Ethel Merman is at her lusty, free and easy best. … And when she opens her mouth to sing, she sings! Nice, loud, clear tones with not a word of the lyrics kept a secret for her and those on stage to share.
– Vernon Rice, Post

Videosar:
Betty Hutton, You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun från filmen
Betty Hutton och Howard Keel, Anything You Can Do
Judy Garland i I’m an Indian Too
Judy Garland i Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly
Bernadette Peters från 1999 års Tony Awards
Reba McEntire Annie Get Your Gun Medley
There’s No Business Like Show Business

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