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The Sunday Opera: Kurt Weill's "Die Burgschaft" and an excerpt from "Der Kuhhandel"

There are two lesser-known works by Kurt Weill on this week’s Sunday Opera (1/19 3:00 p.m.) with a performance of his final opera in Germany before his emigration and an excerpt from the first piece he wrote in France on his way to the United States.  With a plot that is far too complicated to go into, “Die Burgschaft” or “The Pedge” is said to be about the “rise to power of a money driven dictatorship, paralleling the rise of the Nazis.”  It is also a parable regarding man’s role in society.  It was premiered in Berlin in 1932 and was popular until banned by the Nazi regime.  The recording to which we’ll be listening comes from the Spoleto Festival and is conducted by Julius Rudel.  

The cast includes Frederick Burchinal, Margaret Thompson, Dale Travis, Joel Sorensen, and Ann Panagulias.   We’ll finish the afternoon with an excerpt from the operetta “Der Kuhhandel” or “Shady Dealings” which has also been dubbed “My Kingdom for a Cow” and “Arms and the Cow.”  This work takes place on a fictional Caribbean Island that is home to two countries who are set upon each other in a war brought about through lies told by an American arms dealer who sells them faulty weapons.  In short, the plot begins with the loss of a cow and a marriage curtailed, a war declared and a war aborted, and a cow regained and a marriage consummated.  It premiered in London in a musical comedy version in 1935 and received critical but not financial success.  The cast for this includes Eberhard Buchner, Lucy Peacock, and Walter Raffeiner and is conducted by Jan Latham-Konig.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.