It's been a Kurt Weill kind of spring in the Twin Cities, from an epic production of The Threepenny Opera, to a concert featuring music he crafted with Bertolt Brecht, to the Skylark Opera's Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill.
It's not hard to hear why the composer still enthralls audiences nearly 65 years after his death. Weill's sense of song was exquisite as he built fresh and innovative pieces out of a bounty of styles, from traditional German and Jewish tunes to the nascent sounds of jazz.
The Skylark piece gives us more than just his years in Germany with Brecht. The second half of Weill's career, as he became a Broadway tunesmith, gets the back half of the show. These songs, culled from shows like Love Life and Street Scene, may not be as fiercely
innovative as his earlier work, but they carry a musical maturity that puts Weill in pretty rarified territory in musical theater.
For Skylark, director Wendy Knox (who also directed Frank's Threepenny Opera earlier this year) has integrated some movement and performance from her talented quartet of singers. The staging also moves with the times, shifting from harsh lighting in the early pieces
to a warmer glow once the songs get to America. All of this helps to underscore the essential theatricality of the songs, while never interfering with the performances.
The main attraction is the quartet of singers: Bradley Greenwald, Christina Baldwin, Dieter Bierbrauer, and Vicki Fingalson. All four have leading-performer talent, but they also work extremely well when an ensemble is needed.
And favorites? Well, there is Baldwin's bitter take on "Pirate Jenny" from Threepenny Opera, or her sharing of the spotlight with Fingalson on "Jealous Duet" from the same show. Then there is Greenwald's gorgeous reading of "September Song." Or you can have the heartache of "Lonely House," as brought to full life by Bierbauer.
Really, it's hard to go wrong with a piece that (nearly) begins and then ends with "Mack the Knife," as interpreted by four highly talented stars.
IF YOU GO:
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday
E.M. Pearson Theatre, Concordia University
312 N. Hamline Ave., St. Paul
For tickets and more information, call 612.343.3390 or visit online.