The Opera Group/Young Vic/Watford Palace Theatre co-production Street Scene, with music by Kurt Weill, is playing at the Young Vic from 17 to 22 July 2008.
The book is by Elmer Rice, one of the more important contributors to the exciting era when American theatre developed its own voice and first attracted international attention.
Rice’s first major play was The Adding Machine (1923), an expressionist piece satirizing American social conformity. His next play was Street Scene (1929), a multi-layered character piece portraying tenement life in New York. It won the Pulitzer Prize. Weill’s other collaborator on what began life as a hit Broadway musical was Langston Hughes, a major poet and novelist associated with the Harlem Renaissance, who provided the lyrics.
1947. A tenement building over a long hot summer’s day and night in Manhattan.
Street Scene is a musical melting pot of working class New York – scintillating show tunes, operatic arias, jazz, the blues, spirituals - on two brutally hot days in 1946. The story focuses on two main plots: the romance between Rose Maurrant and her neighbour Sam Kaplan; and on the marital affair of Rose's mother, Anna, which is eventually discovered by Rose's irritable father, Frank. But the real heart of the show is the portrayal of the ordinary relationships, the squabbling and gossiping of the neighbours, as the mounting tensions of these relationships exacerbated by the intolerable heat lead to tragedy in the Maurrant family.
Street Scene won Weill the first ever Tony Award for Best Original Score for his music. Elmer Rice adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Lyrics are by the great poet of Harlem Langston Hughes.
A NEW PRODUCTION CONCEIVED ON AN INTIMATE SCALE
The Opera Group, continuing its search for material that will widen the expectations of new audiences and help redefine what Opera means in the 21st century, collaborates again with the Young Vic in seeking to set a new agenda for music theatre/opera. Artistic Director of the company, John Fulljames, has talked to camera for the Genesis Foundation about this show. Sample some of the excitement of rehearsals and some of the thoughts also of the choreographer and conductor of this rich and entertaining piece.