Down in the Valley
Composer: Kurt Weill
Composer Bio: Kurt Julian Weill (March 2, 1900 – April 3, 1950) was a German-Jewish composer, growing up in a religious household. He began piano lessons at 12 and immediately began experimenting with his own compositions. His early success came with his non-stage works though he gravitated toward vocal music and musical theatre. He fled Nazi Germany in 1933, denounced for his socialist views despite being a popular composer. Traveling to Paris, London, and the US he eventually became a United States citizen in 1943. His ideals of writing music that served a socially useful purpose followed him in his travels and he wrote Down in the Valley and other songs in support of the American war effort. Weill died of a heart attack in New York City. His music is still popular sixty years after his death.
Librettist: Arnold Sundgaard
Other Artistic Personnel: Hans Busch (Director)
Ernst Hoffmann (Conductor)
Original Cast: Marion Bell (Jennie)
James Welch (Brack)
Premiere Date: July 15, 1948
Producing Company: Indiana University
Description: Brack Weaver is in prison awaiting his execution the next morning for killing his rival, Thomas Bouché. When the evening train does not bring a letter from his beloved Jennie, he breaks out of prison and rushes to find her. At Jennie's home, she assures Brack of her undying love for him but tells him that her father has forbidden her to have any contact with him. A flashback reveals the moment when Jennie and Brack met for the first time at a prayer meeting. As he walks her home, Brack asks Jennie to accompany him to the square dance that weekend. Jennie happily agrees. When she arrives home, her father's business associate, Thomas Bouché, also invites her to the square dance. Jennie refuses the offer. Her father tells her that she may not attend with anyone else. Jennie, disobeying her father, goes to the dance with Brack, where Bouché appears with a knife in his hand. A fight ensues and Brack eventually kills Bouché. Brack is arrested.
Character List (Major): Brack Weaver(t or high bar)
Jennie Parsons(lyr s)
Thomas Bouche(b)
Character List (Minor): The Leader(bar)
The Preacher(bar)
Jennie's Father(speaking)
Bit Parts: Two Men(speaking)
Two Women(speaking)
Reviews: The New Yorker, Andrew Porter, 4-30-84; The New York Times, John Rockwell, 4-16-84; The New York Times, Robert Sherman, 3-9-71
Comments: There are many videos of this opera: The Ambrosian Singers, Carl Davis, conductor; Unitel/Channel Four, 5-7-86, #8101; Tarrant County Jr. College, 1982, #12153; Pro Arte Orchestra, Charles Mackerras, conductor; BBC, 8-29-61, #11962; Rundfunkchor des NDR, Gerhard Maasz, conductor, NDR, 1-31-58, #11961; CBC-E, 5-21-56, #11960; The Ambrosian Singers, Leo Quayle, conductor, BBC, 5-6-55, #11959; CBC-F, 4-12-53, #11958; BBC, 12-12-52, #11957; NBC Opera Company, Peter Herman Adler, conductor, NBC, 1-14-50, #11956
Length: 00:45
Total Acts: 1
Chorus: SSAATTBB Chorus
Orchestration: 1 fl[+], 1 ob, 2 cl, 2 sx, [1 bsn] - [2 hrn], 2 tpt, 2 tbn - perc - pf - gtr - str(no vla); Alt: 2 pf
Ballet/Dance: Ballet
Musical Style: Based on Anglo-Appalachian ballads
Contact: G. Schirmer, Inc.
Address: 257 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10010
E-mail Address:
Phone: 212-254-2100
Publisher Web Site:
Schedule of Performances Listings
Down in the Valley (Weill)
Saturday, September 16, 1995 - Lyric Opera of Kansas City
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

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