Peabody Chamber Opera presents



Mahagonny Songspiel

by Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht


The White Rose

by Udo Zimmermann

English translation by Stephen Wadsworth


Chamber Opera Orchestra

JoAnn Kulesza, conductor

Bohuslav Rattay, associate conductor (1/26 & 1/30)

Roger Brunyate, stage director


January 24, 25, 30, 31, 2003 at 8:00 PM
Sundays, January 26 and February 2, 2003 at 3:00 PM
Theatre Project, 45 West Preston Street, Baltimore
Admission $16 / Seniors $8 / Students with ID $5
Available only from Theatre Project: 410/752–8558

The production of “Mahagonny Songspiel” is funded in part by a grant from the Kurt Weill Foundation

Production photographs by Jesse Hellman
Mahagonny projections       White Rose projections
Baltimore Sun review       Opera at Peabody home

More than Cabaret: Stage director Roger Brunyate discusses the two works in this program, with relation to the German tradition of political cabaret, and as social and moral documents of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich.

For the 2002–03 season at Theatre Project, Peabody will present a double bill focusing on issues that came to the fore in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century, but whose echoes are still with us today. Collectively titled Berlin/Munich, the program will feature two miniature masterpieces. The Berlin part is Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel. Written in 1927, his first collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, it is a raucous indictment of the empty materialism of the Weimar Republic, but it might as easily apply to the commercialism of our own time. Originally intended as an “anti-opera” to be performed in a boxing arena, the score mixes the popular language of Tin Pan Alley (literally so – much of the text is in fractured English!) with the pungent sound of a night-club band.

Protest march at the end of 
Protest march in scene 6 of Mahagonny Songspiel

This will be followed by the longer of the two works: Udo Zimmermann’s emotionally shattering two-person opera Die Weisse Rose, about the anti-Nazi student resistance movement of the same name in Munich in 1942–3. In early 1943, Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie were arrested by the Gestapo, summarily tried, and guillotined for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets in Munich and several other German cities. Hans, who was 24, had belonged to the Hitlerjugend and fought on the eastern front, but had become deeply troubled by what he saw around him; his sister Sophie was 21; both were medical students and devout Christians. Together with some friends and one professor, they formed the movement Die Weisse Rose (The White Rose) to awaken others to the truth of what was really going on. Although they knew they would surely be arrested, they did what they did in order to affirm for their contemporaries that the spirit of freedom still exists, and to show later generations that not all Germans turned a blind eye to the evil that rampaged around them. The text, which includes material from the Scholls’ own diaries and passages by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others, ranges from dreamlike reminiscence to impassioned denunciation. The musical setting is eclectic, at times in a popular vein like Kurt Weill, at times romantic, at times searing. The overall effect of this opera is an emotional and spiritual experience that will not easily be forgotten. The opera will be given in an English translation by Stephen Wadsworth. Both works are directed and designed by Roger Brunyate, and conducted by JoAnn Kulesza in her Peabody Opera conducting debut.

Production photographs by Jesse Hellman
Mahagonny projections       White Rose projections
Baltimore Sun review       Opera at Peabody home


* = Cast performing on January 24, 26, and 31
** = Cast performing on January 25 and 30 and February 2

JessieCara Elizabeth Rogers**
Mariatana Salerno*
BessieElizabeth Stewart*
Alisa Grundmann**
CharlieEron Bruce
BillieBrendan Dorr
BobbyNicholas Hay
JimmyTom McNichols
Sophie Scholl      Arsenia Soto*
Sheila Willey**
Hans SchollRobert Maril**
Joseph Regan*