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NYFOS presents 2 rare protest pieces: Blitzstein's NO FOR AN ANSWER and Weill's DER SILBERSEE (11/19, Merkin Hall)
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 11:01 am EDT 10/16/19

NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG
Steven Blier, Artistic Director • Michael Barrett, Associate Artistic Director

presents

Marc Blitzstein’s No For An Answer
Kurt Weill’s Der Silbersee (Silverlake)
Two powerful, neglected works by two masters of political theater.
Each speaks passionately to the issues of our times.

With
Soprano SARI GRUBER
Mezzo-soprano REBECCA JO LOEB
Tenor ALEX MANSOORI
Baritone JOHN BRANCY
Pianists MICHAEL BARRETT and STEVEN BLIER

Adam Gopnik collaborates with NYFOS on the script for the evening.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 8:00 p.m.

Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
129 West 67th Street

$20-$65 from the Merkin Box Office: 212-501-3330 or kaufmanmusiccenter.org
Complimentary reception with the artists to follow

This concert is a co-presentation with Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center
From NYFOS artistic director/co-founder/pianist/host Steven Blier:
"Weill and Blitzstein filled the scores for these two theater pieces with songs of great beauty and power. Both works were stillborn due to the onset of the Second World War. And both are ripe for a hearing, especially in our current historical moment. A concert presentation with narration strikes me as the best way to get reacquainted with the complex glories of Der Silbersee (Silverlake) and No For An Answer. The original scripts are somewhat unwieldy, but Lord, how the music soars!"

NEW YORK FESTIVAL OF SONG—the "engaging, ever-curious series" (The New York Times)—presents two exceedingly rare theater works by Marc Blitzstein and Kurt Weill that grapple passionately with themes of social injustice. NYFOS will present 50-minute concert suites from each show, with narration.

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 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 collaborated with NYFOS in creating the script for this evening.

“The hardy ensemble [NYFOS] at times uses song as a gentle political weapon.”
— NEW YORK MAGAZINE

THE PROGRAM
(subject to change)

DER SILBERSEE (Silverlake)
Music by Kurt Weill. Book and lyrics by Georg Kaiser.
English translation by Jonathan Eaton.
Presented under license from European American Music Corporation
on behalf of the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc.
Excerpts to include:
CAESAR’S DEATH
THE LOTTERY AGENT’S TANGO
THE SHOPGIRLS’ DUET
THE SONG OF THE POOR RELATION
THE ODYSSEUS ARIA
THE SCHLARAFFENLAND DUET

* * *

Excerpts from and narration based on
NO FOR AN ANSWER
An Opera
By Marc Blitzstein
Excerpts to include:
DIMPLES/FRAUGHT
IN THE CLEAR
FRANCIE
PENNY CANDY
PUREST KIND OF A GUY
SECRET SINGING
ABOUT NYFOS
www.nyfos.org

“This inimitable concert series has celebrated song in all its many forms,
with sly thematic programs that tease out dormant connections. The festival
has deployed (and often discovered) many of the city’s finest voices.”
— THE NEW YORKER

Michael Barrett and Steven Blier
Now in its 32nd season, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty and originality. Weaving music, poetry, history and humor into evenings of compelling theater, NYFOS fosters community among artists and audiences. Each program entertains and educates in equal measure.

Founded by pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier in 1988, NYFOS continues to produce its series of thematic song programs, drawing together rarely-heard songs of all kinds, overriding traditional distinctions between musical genres, exploring the character and language of other cultures, and the personal voices of song composers and lyricists.

Since its founding, NYFOS has particularly celebrated American song. Among the many highlights is the double bill of one-act comic operas, Bastianello and Lucrezia, by John Musto and William Bolcom, both with libretti by Mark Campbell, commissioned and premiered by NYFOS in 2008 and recorded on Bridge Records. In addition to Bastianello and Lucrezia and the 2008 Bridge Records release of Spanish Love Songs with Joseph Kaiser and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, NYFOS has produced five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Ned Rorem’s Evidence of Things Not Seen (also a NYFOS commission) on New World Records. In 2014, Canción Amorosa, a CD of Spanish song—Basque, Catalan, Castilian, and Sephardic—was released on the GPR label, with soprano Corinne Winters accompanied by Steven Blier.

In November 2010, NYFOS debuted NYFOS Next, a mini-series for new songs, hosted by guest composers in intimate venues, including SubCulture, OPERA America's National Opera Center, National Sawdust, and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

NYFOS is passionate about nurturing the artistry and careers of young singers, and has developed training residencies around the country, including with The Juilliard School’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts (now in its 15th year); Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 12th year); San Francisco Opera Center (over 21 years); Glimmerglass Opera (2008–2010); and its newest project, NYFOS@North Fork in Orient, NY.

NYFOS’s concert series, touring programs, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities continue to spark new interest in the creative possibilities of the song program, and have inspired the creation of thematic vocal series around the world.


“A NYFOS concert is always a revelation.”
— OPERA NEWS
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