Blitzstein / Weill Double Bill
Marc Blitzstein’s “No For An Answer”
Kurt Weill’s “Der Silbersee”
Two powerful, neglected theater works by a pair of masters of political theater, presented as two 50-min concert suites.
Sari Gruber, soprano
Rebecca Jo Loeb, mezzo-soprano
Alex Mansoori, tenor
John Brancy, baritone
Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, pianists and hosts
This new mounting of two powerful, neglected theater works by Marc Blitzstein and Kurt Weill grapple passionately with themes of social injustice. Blitzstein’s No For An Answer, first staged in 1941, focuses on a feisty group of resort hotel workers struggling with unemployment and oppression during the off-season; Der Silbersee is a dystopian fantasy with a miraculous, happy ending. The Second World War cut the original runs of both shows down to a scant two performances each. Weill was forced to flee Germany after the opening of Der Silbersee, and Blitzstein was shipped off to Europe with the Armed Forces soon after his show had its brief moment off-Broadway.
Both works are about ordinary people fighting to free themselves from tyranny and discrimination. In Der Silbersee, there’s a miracle; in No For An Answer, a murder. Both works are filled with first-class songs that speak directly to our times.
Soprano Sari Gruber, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Jo Loeb, tenor Alex Mansoori, and baritone John Brancy bring these gargantuan works to life. Gruber has been a mainstay of NYFOS concerts, hailed by Opera News as “nothing short of sensational.” Loeb made her NYFOS debut in 2008 and has recently been featured on the Metropolitan Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin stages. Recognized for his “solid and convincing character tenor” by The New York Times, Mansoori is also a NYFOS regular, ranging in programs from Songs of War and Peace to Goyishe Christmas. Brancy has been recognized by The New York Times as “a vibrant, resonant presence.” He first began his work with NYFOS as a Caramoor Vocal Rising Star in 2010 and has been a fixture of programs since. Brancy was recently featured in a new production of Meredith Monk’s ATLAS with the LA Phil. Both Loeb and Brancy are winners of the Kurt Weill Foundation’s prestigious Lotte Lenya Competition.
Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker will collaborate with Steven Blier on the evening’s spoken continuity.
“The hardy ensemble [NYFOS] at times uses song as a gentle political weapon.”— NEW YORK MAGAZINE, 2/18/19