The American Opera for Broadway
September 16, 2018
On October 6 & 7, Virginia Opera kicks off its season at the Center with legendary composer Kurt Weill’s adaptation of Street Scene, which is based on American playwright Elmer Rice’s original 1929 Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Artistic Director Adam Turner says “Street Scene is considered one of the first truly “American” operas, following in the footsteps of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, but it actually enjoyed a longer Broadway run in its time and won the very first Tony Award for Best Original Score in 1947.”
This poignant masterpiece features a musical score steeped in American culture: jazz, Broadway showstoppers, and full-throated passages of verismo lyricism penned by renowned African American, Harlem Renaissance-era poet and writer Langston Hughes. Mixing comedy, romance, and tragedy, Street Scene presents a cast of characters as they live, love, and strive for happiness in the shadow of a New York City tenement in the sweltering summer heat. The work affirms German-born Weill’s profound belief that any “real” American opera must, like the American society that spawned it, represent a melting pot of diverse styles and voices where even seemingly minor characters play vital roles. “I’m absolutely thrilled to offer our audiences this Kurt Weill masterpiece as we continue our company’s commitment to such timely and resonant works,” says Turner.
For Street Scene, the company welcomes back acclaimed Director Dorothy Danner for what is her 16th Virginia Opera production. Street Scene stars sopranos Maureen McKay as Rose (debut) and Jill Gardner (Minnie in the 2017–2018 VO season’s The Girl of the Golden West) as Rose’s mother, Anna Maurrant. Tenor and former Herndon Foundation Emerging Artist David Blalock returns to Virginia stages as the idealistic Sam Kaplan. Additional roles will be filled by several members of the Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Program, two Broadway dancers/singers, local Virginia-based actors with speaking roles, a 24-voice adult chorus, and a children’s chorus of sixteen—including eight members of the Governor’s School for the Arts Vocal Music Program.
Read more about “the continuing relevance of Street Scene.”