Review by Marlene Harding in magazine then still called The Music Connoisseur (v.3 #2, p.5) of "A BLITZSTEIN CABARET" - 13 selections from repertoire of Marc Blitztein, performed by 11 singers, with Leonard Lehrman, piano, at Medicine Show, 553 W. 52nd Street, NYC on March 10-12, 1995.
Sidebar: Blitzstein: "More than a footnote"
Marc Blitzstein, 1905-1964. Threepenny Opera, original production, Theatre de Lys (now the Lucille Lortel). A wildly raffish work, with great downbeat, cyncial street-smart, heart-breaking songs. Weill-Brecht. Blitzstein translated Brecht's script based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera.
What else? The Cradle Will Rock, all Blitzstein, 1937.
In 1969, while at Harvard, Leonard Lehrman, composer-pianist-conductor-musicologist-raconteur produced, directed, reorchestrated and conducted..."Rock" in its first Boston production since Leonard Bernstein's of 1939. Richard Flusser says, "Leonard Lehrman is Marc Blitzstein's dybbuk--a spirit that will not let unfulfilled promises and dreams remain unfulfilled." Since the 60's, Dr. Lehrman has labored long, hard and imaginatively to render Blitzstein more than a footnote to the careers of Leonard Bernstein, Ned Rorem and American musical theater.
Notably, Dr. Lehrman has been working on completion of Blitzstein's opera Sacco and Vanzetti, parts of which had never been performed before the "Blitzstein Cabaret." Judging from the tragical/heroical/simple magnificence of Blitzstein-Lehrman's aria "Vanzetti's Last Words," sung with nobility and poignant eloquence by Medicine Show company singer Aron Bederson, Sacco and Vanzetti merits a complete production at City Opera, the Met or elsewhere soon.
Lehrman has worked to complete the Blitzstein-Malamud collaboration, Tales of Malamud. For instance, the aria "The Parable of the Mirror" had never been publicly performed before this "Cabaret." Paul Murphy sang it well.
Kathleen Cuvelier was outstanding in "Nickel Under the Foot" from The Cradle Will Rock and in "Then" from "The Magic Barrel" section of Tales of Malamud. Also noteworthy were Jerry Lazar, Gavin Smith and Mr. Murphy in the bracing "What Is the Stars?" (never before staged) from Blitzstein's musical adaptation of Sean O'Casey's play Juno and the Paycock.
The Blitzstein revival is still underway; the American Symphony Orchestra will perform his Airborne Symphony of 1946 on April 30th. Often embroiled in controversy over the "social consciousness" of his work, Marc Blitzstein can now get the full outing he deserves.