Created by and starring soprano Karyn Levitt
Musical direction by pianist Jed Distler
Directed by Michael Unger
On Hollywood and Weimar, created by and starring soprano Karyn Levitt with pianist Jed Distler, celebrates the glorious music of old Hollywood by European composers from the Golden Age of Film. Musical geniuses, like Kurt Weill, Erich Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Hanns Eisler — many of whom had escaped to Southern California from Nazi Europe — brought from their respective homelands the highest level of culture, which they poured into the American film industry: they blended the music of the old world and the new, thereby creating and inventing the uniquely hybrid sound of Hollywood films. American music benefited as we became heir to their legacy. From dusty westerns and sweeping romances to the thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock, Karyn Levitt and Jed Distler perform eleven composers’ songs in a theatrically-directed, choreographed, and gorgeously lit musicological journey through some of Hollywood’s most iconic film scores. The songs range in style from Weimar cabaret and operetta to country-western, classical art song, and jazz… from “Falling in Love Again” to “On Green Dolphin Street,” from “San Francisco” to “Spellbound,” from “Rawhide” and “(High Noon) Do Not Forsake Me” to Kurt Weill’s “Song of Ruth,” and more! (Running time: 75 minutes.)
What started as an idea for a tribute to the remarkable composers who found themselves in exile in California in the first half of the last century turned out to be a highly acclaimed and sold-out show in New York City. Celebrating a hugely successful evening, soprano Karyn Levitt and pianist Jed Distler recently brought On Hollywood and Weimar to the legendary NYC cabaret venue 54 Below. This comes on the heels of two equally successful and sold-out performances at Off-Broadway’s York Theatre and Triad Theater, and now the artists are ready to take the show on tour.
Karyn Levitt is a leading interpreter of this impressive repertoire. She curated all the songs and wrote the narration, which together make the program a perfect homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood. As a distinguished artist/producer, Ms. Levitt is known for her historic collaboration with the foremost Brecht translator, Eric Bentley — whose centennial tribute (hosted by Michael Riedel and featuring Tony Kushner, Austin Pendleton, and other theater luminaries) she produced at The Town Hall and whose work she performs in concert and recorded on her CD, Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Song Book.
Discover Austro-German composer Hanns Eisler whose music was branded by the Nazis as “degenerate.”
Eisler was a student of Schoenberg, a contemporary of Kurt Weill, and Brecht’s favorite collaborator.
Karyn Levitt is THE performer of the English Eisler/Brecht repertoire of our time. Her close working relationship with her mentor, Brecht translator and friend Eric Bentley, gives her the opportunity to consult with a contemporary witness and the source of the acclaimed translations to excite the next generation with Hanns Eisler’s music and Bertolt Brecht’s lyrics.
Hanns Eisler songs and music with words from Bertolt Brecht, in English adaptation by Eric Bentley, performed by Soprano Karyn Levitt and Music Director/Pianist Eric Ostling (optionally leading the Hanns Eisler Trio, featuring William Schimmel on accordion and Ira Siegel on guitar).
Soprano/Producer/Writer: Karyn Levitt
Music Director/Pianist: Eric Ostling
Directed by: Michael Unger
As a distinguished artist/producer, Ms. Levitt is known for her historic collaboration with Eric Bentley — whose centennial tribute (hosted by Michael Riedel and featuring Tony Kushner, Austin Pendleton, James Shapiro, Harold Bloom, and other literary and theater luminaries) she produced at The Town Hall and whose work she also recorded on her CD, Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Song Book.