Teresa Stratas: Two Complete Kurt Weill Albums #opera #weill

The only place on the internet to download and enjoy two long out-of-print sets of performances that we are aware of.

“Nobody can sing Weill’s music better than you do.” – Lotte Lenya, wife of composer Kurt Weill, to Teresa Stratas.

For those of you who caught our series in August of 2017, “Variations on Alban Berg’s Lulu” (available for download on the Podcast page here), the artist we are spotlighting here is of familiar ears: Teresa Stratas, the soprano who played the titular role in the first-ever fully developed Third Act. These performances were released in 1980 and won her two Grammy Awards.

After her time in the production, Stratas, who had been performing with major companies for over two decades, in a sense, retired. She had befriended Lotte Lenya, the wife of composer Kurt Weill. Lenya, of course, was a singer, an Academy Award nominated actress and had even played in the original Broadway cast of Cabaret, a musical set during the Weimar Republic in Berlin. Stratas had been with Lenya in the final weeks before her death.

Teresa Stratas, 1981, photo by Keith Holzman.

Lenya begged Stratas to record a group of scores hidden away of her late husband’s work, believing only Stratas could do them justice. Stratas had originally planned on quietly retiring and, as the legend goes, go to work in India with Mother Theresa.

Instead of travelling to Calcutta, Stratas decided to fulfill Lenya’s wish and returned after a three-year absence from singing. After the critical success of the first set of recordings, Stratas recorded another album of Weill material. These recording are considered by many to be some of, if not the greatest, performances of Weill material.

Kurt Weill, courtesy of the Milken Archives. 

Weill, of course, was a German composer most famous for a work he and Bertolt Brecht made during the Weimar Republic in Germany entitled The Threepenny Opera in 1928, which contained the song “Mack The Knife”, a massive hit for Bobby Darin in thirty years later. Weill fled Germany at the beginning of the rise of the Hitler and is said to have been a vocal supporter in getting the United States involved into World War 2. To top it all off, he also was critical in bringing the Broadway musical into its own a serious art form, even being awarded the very first Tony Award for Best Original Score for Street Scene in 1947, written with Black and gay poet Langston Hughes. Weill died shortly after his 50th birthday in 1950.

These releases have been out-of-print for decades, and are not available digitally for download anywhere else. We present these recordings not just to keep these unique and amazing performances alive, but as a tribute to our friend, Donald “Wayne” Carlon. Wayne was a former music librarian at the Portland Symphonic Choir, and the “Lulu” programs last year were his absolute favorite. When I told him about the Stratas/Weill series back in April 2018, he was over the moon, as even many classical radio stations did not play this music.

Lotte Lenya in 1961 as Bond villain Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love. Courtesy of MGM/Broccoli Productions.

Sadly, Wayne died about three weeks later, on 14 May 2018, and it is our hope that some of his extended family that we haven’t met are able to hear it; to absent friends indeed.

To download any of these programs, please click on the three dots at the very right of the audio player.

Stratas Sings Weill, 1986

Part 1

1. One Touch Of Venus – I’m A Stranger Here Myself
2. Aufstieg Und Fall Der Stadt Mahagonny – Ach Bedenken Sie, Herr Jakob Schmidt, “Havana Song”
3. Happy End – Der Kleine Leutnant Des Lieben Gottes
4. Der Silbersee – Ich Bin Eine Arme Verwandte, “Fennimores Lied”
5. Lady In The Dark – One Life To Live

Stratas Sings Weill, Part 1 of 3

Part 2

6. Marie Galante – J’Attends Un Navire
7. Street Scene – Lonely House
8. Die Dreigroschenoper – Lied Von Der Unzulänglichkeit Menschlichen Strebens
9. Knickerbocker Holiday – It Never Was You
10. One Touch Of Venus – Foolish Heart

Stratas Sings Weill, Part 2 of 3

Part 3

11. Aufstieg Und Fall Der Stadt Mahagonny – Meine Herren, Meine Mutter Prägte…Denn Wie Man Sich Bettet
12. Happy End – Surabaya Johnny
13. Happy End – Das Lied Von Der Harten Nuss
14. Marie Galante – Le Roi D’Aquitaine
15. Marie Galante – Le Train Du Ciel

Stratas Sings Weill, Part 3 of 3

The Unknown Kurt Weill, 1981

Part 1

1. Nanna’s Lied (1939)
2. Complainte De La Seine (1934)
3. Klops-Lied (1925)
4. Berlin Im Licht (1928)
5. Und Was Bekam Des Soldaten Weib? (1943)

The Unknown Kurt Weill, Part 1 of 3

Part 2

6. Konjunktur (1928)
7. Wie Lange Noch? (1944)
8. Youkali, “Tango Habanera” (possibly 1935)
9. Der Abschiedsbrief (possibly 1933)
10. Es Regnet (1933)

The Unknown Kurt Weill, Part 2 of 3

Part 3

11. Propaganda Songs – Buddy On The Nightshift (1942)
12. Propaganda Songs – Schickelgruber (1942)
13. Je Ne T’Aime Pas (1934)
14. Petroleuminseln – Das Lied Von Den Brauenen Inseln (1928)

The Unknown Kurt Weill, Part 3 of 3

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr. and Ronald E. Smith

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