Bremner sings Brecht
Time & Location
About the Event
Brecht and Weill:
Brecht and Weill’s first collaboration was a setting of nine poems by Brecht, apparently about the founding of a city by pleasure-driven, aimless refugees. The Mahagonny Songspiel, first performed in Baden-Baden in 1927, was a statement of radical theatrical and musical tendencies. The work was staged in a boxing ring. In accordance with the theories of the “proletarian people’s stage” that Erwin Piscator was evolving in Berlin, placards were held up declaring the political programme, and the names and titles of the numbers were baldly announced. The first performance had an argumentative but ultimately rather successful reception. Lotte Lenya, Weill’s wife and a performer in the Songspiel, had no idea whether people had liked it or not until, in the bar afterwards, the conductor Otto Klemperer tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Ist hier kein Telefon?”, one of the lyrics.
Work began almost immediately on a full-length opera, filling out the story of the founding of Mahagonny, its surrender to pleasure, and its collapse. It was interrupted by the quick writing of a radical anti-opera, The Threepenny Opera, which put Piscator’s theories into a form that would prove wildly popular. Brecht and Weill were engaged in a similar endeavour, but the brevity of their collaboration – less than five years – shows how different they really were.
Brecht and Eisler:
Hanns Eisler, five months younger than Brecht, and a pupil of Schönberg and Webern, had come from Vienna to Berlin in 1925. He was an austerer composer than Weill; his sister Ruth Fischer and his brother Gerhard Eisler were both prominent Communist Party officials; and he had already become well known as a composer of Communist songs. As such he was prepared to do what Hindemith evidently would not, and give a certain supremacy to the text. Thus although Die Massnahme, the Lehrstück which he and Brecht wrote for the 1930 festival, was in one sense a logical continuation of the two pieces of 1929 and a natural companion to the Jasager (whose essential theme it repeated in Communist dress), the whole work had a strong political flavour, and Eisler's songs were revolutionary in their impact. Hindemith and the other directors of the Neue Musik objected to this. Die Massnahme was not performed at the festival; and Brecht's connection with the bulk of the new movement now ceased.
Reviews for Bremner:
"When he sings, his voice is like a big, dark, sultry room --full of emotive and expressive possibilities. Even when Duthie sings in languages other than English, the passion and subtext come startlingly alive." -The Georgia Straight, Vancouver
"It takes more than just an expressive voice to really communicate Kurt Weill songs - it takes love, fear, regrets, wistfulness, loneliness, tragedy and charm. And above all, it takes a fine actor. Duthie has it all' -Theatreworld Magazine, London, England
“...his remarkable voice interprets the songs of Kurt Weill better than anybody since Lotte Lenya! (His rendition of 'Speak Low When You Speak Love' will break your heart.) An absolute MUST” - CBC Winnipeg
"Bremner Duthie is a wonderful stage presence...with a voice of power and inner beauty that commands the whole space..... One feels seduced by the sheer power and beauty of this performance" -Musical Stages Magazine: London, England
"Any diehard theatre fan will adore this treat, which features the music of Kurt Weill and includes one of the best renditions of Mack the Knife you're likely to hear. Extraordinary. " -The Winnipeg Sun