Anderson, Mamoulian, Weill - 1949

David Drew

Weill Editions: 4. Stage Works


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Whether published or unpublished, the 'editions' listed below are either obsolescent or, for the reasons noted, already obsolete.

Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

Opera in three acts (1930); text by Brecht

Second and revised edition (19..) of the piano/vocal score originally published by Universal Edition in March 1930, shortly before the world premiere. It incorporates all the composer's post-publication revisions that were traceable and verifiable at that date. It benefited directly from the practical experience of the 1963 London production conducted by Colin Davis - which drew on the same revisions - but was given short shrift by German-speaking directors and managers whose loyalty to Brecht was such that it left no room for an interest in revisions or opinions attributed to his musical collaborator.

Nevertheless the edition - prepared at the express request of the publishers - has been widely used in the decades since its publication. In due course, and before long, it will be superseded by a definitive edition of the vocal score, based on the edition of the full score which will be prepared for The Kurt Weill Edition.

Published Editions: revised vocal score (1969) Universal Edition 9851; libretto Universal Edition 9852

Die Bürgschaft

See Annual Records, 1957-58 and 1975-76 for the history of this project. The aim from the start had been to attempt a revision on the basis of the documented agreement between composer and librettist (Caspar Neher) that a revision was essential and that the second of the three acts was the one in which the problems were most acute. The revision attempted to solve or at least to diminish the problems without major incursions on the musical text or structure (most of the cuts were reserved for repeated material). In contrast to the Berlin version of 1957, re-orchestration or re-composition was rigorously excluded.

In its original form, the revision of the libretto was completed (ca.1965) as a collaboration between David Drew and Hugo F. Garten (1904-1975). The result was a German text fully underlaid - i.e. prosodically and rhythmically integrated with the vocal lines in the published scores. On returning to that revision in the early 1970s, in response to the active interest of a leading European opera Intendant, Drew found much that needed further thought and attention. New dialogue written in English was provisionally translated into German for information only, and inserted at the appropriate points in the 1965 libretto without reference to the vocal requirements. Copies of this revised libretto were duly submitted to all concerned, but the vocal score with manuscript revisions was retained by Drew pending work on the new underlays, and discussions with English National Opera.

At that juncture communications with the opera houses, the publishers, and Lotte Lenya were interrupted. Soon after, the Intendant most actively concerned with the project moved to another house. In these circumstances (1975-76), further work on the project seemed neither practicable nor desirable.

It would plainly be pointless to return to the project a quarter of a century later with a view to reanimating it. Born as it was from the circumstances of 1957-65, it had already had to be reconsidered in the changed conditions of the early 1970s. Today, the circumstances are entirely different. The modern and postmodern traditions of director's theatre, of so-called Regietheater, take for granted that the operatic 'event', in all its actuality, holds sway over the 'text', whatever its perfection or imperfections. There are no longer generally acceptable criteria for a generally acceptable revision of a given text. The only 'useful' text is the historical one, to be observed, changed or ignored according to the director's individual taste, whim, or ambition.

It was wholly appropriate that during and after the Weill Centenary Year the 'historical' Die Bürgschaft was at last revived, and furnished with Weill's long-lost orchestration of the new scene for Act III. The commercial recording conducted by Julius Rudel has won many new admirers for the work, and provided a firm and accountable basis for its future.

Der Kuhhandel

The version of Der Kuhhandel (1934-35) prepared in 1971 for a production in Dortmund that never materialized was the joint work of Josef Heinzelmann (the prospective director), Christopher Shaw, and David Drew. Completed in every detail - allowing for the usual minor or major improvements during rehearsal - the version was an attempt to bring the work closer to its origins as an operetta in the Offenbach tradition, and thus to remove the elements that related specifically to its solitary and ill-fated production in 1935 in the guise of an English musical comedy.

The one important and durable relic of the Dortmund production is the 110-page orchestral score which Christopher Shaw prepared on the basis of Weill's completed vocal scores or drafts of numbers omitted from the 1935 London production. Written with loving care and invention after meticulous study of Weill's orchestral practice in relevant passages, Shaw's score represents a considerable asset whose neglect after the Dortmund debâcle has been regrettable - and no fault of Dortmund's.

In the edition of Der Kuhhandel published by Schott-Mainz workaday orchestrations of the quartet 'O trüber Tag' and the large-scale solo and choral scene, 'The Ballad of Pharaoh' have replaced the exemplary ones Shaw had made in 1971. Structurally of greater importance are the solutions Shaw's score provides to the problem of the lyrical waltz-duet interpolated at the end of the first scene and the dramatic duet composed but not retained as a vital link between the penultimate scene and the second finale.

The numbers orchestrated by Shaw are listed below. To give an approximate idea of proportions, the number of manuscript pages (from a total of 110) is indicated, number by number. Texts adapted or written by Joseph Heinzelmann (JH) are indicated accordingly. The remaining texts are Vambery's originals.

Love duet and melodrama (Juan, Juanita) [JH] - 19 pages
President's Speech - 3 pages
Ximenes' Couplets [JH] - 8 pages
Die Ballade vom Pharao (Juan and packers) - 31 pages
'Reichste der Königin' [JH] - 4 pages
Juanita's Song of the Cow (Kuhlied) [JH] - 4 pages
'O trüber Tag' (Juanita/Mother/Juan/Schoolmaster) - 17 pages
Soldier's March and Bordello scene [JH] - 12 pages
Fünf hab' ich (Juan-Juanita) - 12 pages

Royal Palace

The composer's orchestral score, together with the orchestral parts, was lost or mislaid in unknown circumstances soon after the 1929 performance in Essen. The first step towards its replacement was a version prepared by Gunther Schuller - in liaison with David Drew - of those passages in the score intended for dance or film. Framed by the opening and closing music of the opera, this 'dance version' of Royal Palace was first and successfully staged in San Francisco in October 1968, but has not been seen since.

The plan to complete the orchestration and perform the entire work did not materialise until the Weill events at the 1971 Holland Festival were under discussion. At that time Schuller was unable to free himself from his other commitments, and Gary Bertini, the conductor of the proposed double bill (Royal Palace and Der Silbersee) recommended his colleague Noam Sheriff, the Israeli composer, who duly undertook the additional orchestration at short notice. The premiere attracted little attention in the press, but three decades later, in the year of the Weill Centenary, the Schuller/Sheriff version of Royal Palace, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, was one of the outstanding successes of the BBC's Weill Weekend at The Barbican. It was repeated with equal success at the BBC Proms in 2001.

There are marked differences, in principle and in effect, between Schuller's orchestration and Sheriff's.

Singing roles: Dejanira (dramatic soprano), The Husband (bass), Yesterday's Lover (baritone), tomorrow's Lover (tenor), The Young Fisherman (tenor), The Old Fisherman, (bass), headwaiter, boy; soprano solo and female chorus (off stage)

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, alto sax, 3 contrabassoons [?check]; 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba; percussion timps, strings. Stage orchestra: percussion, glockenspiel, 5 bells, harp, celesta, piano, pitched car-horn.

Duration: 45 minutes

Published Editions: piano score Universal Edition 8690; libretto Universal Edition 8691

Performance rights and rentals: USA, UK 'etc': European American Music Corporation. All other territories Universal Edition

Mahagonny Songspiel

See the Kurt Weill Handbook for an account of the publishing history of this celebrated and widely performed work. The highly defective 'editions' published under Drew's name since the original text was hastily cobbled together for a production in Gelsenkirchen in the late 1950s are due to be replaced by a scholarly edition which will form one of the next volumes in The Kurt Edition.

Singing roles: Charlie (tenor), Billy (tenor), Bobby (bass), Jimmy (bass), Jessie (soprano), Bessie (soprano)

Instrumentation: 2 clarinets/bass clar, alto sax, 2 trumpets, trombone, percussion, timps, piano, 2 violins

Duration: 30 minutes

Published edition: piano score Universal Edition 12889

Performance rights and rentals: USA, UK 'etc': European American Music Corporation All other territories: Universal Edition




Material Copyright © 2002 David Drew.