Street Scene by Kurt Weill
American opera depicting the everyday life of mid-century New York City, Fairchild Theatre March 21, 23–25.
The MSU Opera Theatre concludes its 2017-2018 season with “Street Scene,” an American opera depicting the everyday life of mid-century New York City. Performances will be Wednesday, March 21st at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 23rd and Saturday, March 24th at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 25th at 3 p.m. in Fairchild Theatre. The MSU Opera Theatre is under the direction of Melanie Helton, with guest conductor Hal France.
“Street Scene” was composed and premiered in 1946, debuting on Broadway only a year later. The story is based on Elmer Rice’s play of the same name, with lyrics by Harlem Renaissance Poet Langston Hughes. Of the adaptation, Weill wrote, “I saw great musical possibilities in its theatrical device – life in a tenement house between one evening and the next afternoon. And it seemed like a great challenge to me to find the inherent poetry in these people and to blend my music with the stark realism of the play.”
The first act opens on a New York City block with neighbors gathering around and lamenting about the heat. We learn through gossip that within the Maurrant family, both mother and daughter are engaged in romantic affairs. We can glean from the characters that life in the slums is hard work and seldom rewarding. As the characters continue going about their days, Mrs. Maurrant and her lover are confronted by Mr. Maurrant and violence ensues. The neighbors are left to comfort the daughter and her lover as they mourn her broken family.
Directing her 18th opera season at MSU, Helton has garnered top honors from National Opera Association competitions receiving first and third place finishes in recent years. Under her direction, MSU Opera has been recognized five times out of the past six years.
The fine young students of MSU Opera Theatre are discovering so much about how history repeats itself in this American opera for Broadway. The themes of family dysfunction, sexual harassment, domestic violence and resistance to immigrants are all too familiar. We are dealing with these issues in the show with honesty and compassion. It is a wonderful acting challenge for these students, as well as a chance to sing Weill’s magical music.
Hal France will be guest conducting the MSU Symphony Orchestra for the production. He has conducted at numerous operas across the country as well as served as music director for the Houston Grand Opera and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (age 60 and older), and $5 for students with ID and anyone under 18, and can be purchased online, at the College of Music box office, by calling (517) 353-5340, or in person (333 W. Circle Drive, East Lansing), or at the door.
Generously sponsored by Dr. James M. Miller and Dr. Rebecca H. Lehto. The Opera Theatre season is generously funded by the Worthington Family Foundation