Der Jasager, after a Japanese nô theatre play, is a striking example of this. Kurt Weill and playwright Bertolt Brecht focused on young performers and audiences, but also wanted to redraw the lines of opera and include ‘simplicity and naturalness’ in the vocals. Soloists and the entire Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Children’s Chorus present this rarely-performed ‘school opera’ in a concert version and in dialogue with ‘hits’ by Kurt Weill and the catchy Folk Songs by Luciano Berio.
‘I am not looking for new forms or new theories. I’m looking for a new audience.’ These were the words of the composer Kurt Weill, who in the 1920s and 1930s advocated a new kind of music theatre that broke away from the Wagnerian legacy and was intended to reach people outside the traditional opera circuit. Rather than a youth opera, Der Jasager is a typical Brechtian Lehrstück, or ‘learning-piece’, in which the question is asked whether man should sacrifice himself for the community, and for political, ideological and religious motives. A boy joins his teacher and a group of peers traveling through the mountains. When the boy becomes ill, he is asked the ritual question of whether he may be left behind. His answer must be ‘yes’.
In this concert we find all the styles that Weill practised during his lifetime: the strict neoclassical style of Der Jasager, the ironically sentimental music of The Threepenny Opera and his American ‘Broadway style’. Berio’s Folk Songs also take us on a journey across continents and styles - from Californian flower-power to village music from Azerbaijan.