The Star Press from Muncie, Indiana on November 29, 1981 · Page 7
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The Star Press from Muncie, Indiana · Page 7

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Muncie, Indiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 29, 1981
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Page 7
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THE MUNCIE STAR, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1981 SECTION A-PAGE 7 Era in Theater Ends With Death of Legendary Lotte Lenya By JOHN ROCKWELL 1981 N.Y. Tlmei News Service NEW YORK - Lotte Lenya, star of the German and American stage and films who died Friday night, championed the music of her husband, Kurt Weill. She was 83 years old. Miss Lenya first attracted wide-; spread attention in the 1928 Berlin production of Bertolt Brecht's and Weill's Threepenny Opera, and her fame was confirmed in the film version of 1931. Her stage career in this country was limited until after Weill's death in 1950. But with the 1954 off-Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera she became a noted figure in America, subsequently appearing in numerous works of both Weill and Brecht as well ' as supervising and singing in a series of Weill recordings that inspired the present-day reeval-uation of his work. She also made a ' name for herself, independently of Weill, winning a Tony Award for her performance in Cabaret on Broadway and an Oscar for the film The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. By the. late 50s, Miss Lenya had become a ubiquitous symbol of the spirit, toughness and insouciance of Germany between the world wars. She and The Threepenny Opera properly came to represent all that was bright, glittering, sharp and trenchant about the art and the popular culture of Weimar Berlin. As a singer. Miss Lenya had her distinct technical limitations, especially in her later years, when she lowered the pitch and approximated the line of Weill's songs. In a review in The New York Times, Harold C. Schonberg described her voice as one that "could sandpaper sandpaper." But through her shaky failings, or perhaps even because of them, she projected an individuality, a vulnerability and a defiance that her more technically adroit successors were hard put to match. Lotte Lenya, whose original name was Karoline Blamauer, was born on Oct. 18, 1898, in Penzing, a working-class suburb of Vienna. Her mother was a laundress and her father one of the city's coachmen. Her first professional experience came at the age of 6, when she appeared in a local circus, and two years later she learned to walk a tightrope. During World War I, she was sent to live with an aunt in Zurich. She took dance classes in the local City Theater and joined its corps de ballet, and she also played small roles in operettas. "Lotte Lenya" was a stage name derived from her nickname, Lenja, and all her life she preferred to be called Lenja or Lenya by her friends. In 1920, she went to Berlinthen the theatrical capital of the German- speaking world, and joined a small company devoted to Shakespeare. Two years later there was an audition for a children's ballet called Die Zaubernacht. She was offered a part but turned it down when her teacher was refused a role. The composer of Die Zaubernacht was Kurt Weill, although she did not meet him then. By this time she had become a protegee of the German playwright Georg Kaiser and his wife, and it was through them, in 1924, that she finally met Weill. She was asked by Kaiser to row across a lake and pick up the composer, who was a houseguest. Miss Lenya asked how she would recognize him. The answer was, "All composers look alike." A romance soon developed between the two, and they were married in 1926. The first Brecht-Wpill collaboration was the short Songspiel, now known as the Little Mahagonny, in which Miss Lenya had a part. Composed for the 1927 Baden-Baden Festival of avant-garde music, it had a controversial success and led to their work on The Threepenny Opera. The ancedotes surrounding the premiere of that work, at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm on Aug. 31, 1928, have passed into theatrical history. The performance was preceded by a temper tantrum by Weill, who had noticed the omission of his wife's name from the program. "Pigsty," he cried. "This is a pigsty. My wife won't go on! I won't allow it." Miss Lenya later told The New York Times Magazine that she calmed him by saying, "They'll know who I am tomorrow." They did. The Threepenny Opera, with its blend of classical formalism, jazz atmosphere and defiantly proletarian simplicity, became the hit of Europe. It ran for five years in Berlin, until 1933, and was produced all over Germany and the rest of the Western world. Altogether, by one estimate, it received some 4,000 performances in 120 productions. In the original version, Miss Lenya played the part of Jenny, but had only one song to sing. Her Solomon Song was cut because the show seemed too long, and the Pirate Jenny song was Polly's. In the film, however, from which Brecht eventually withdrew, Miss Lenya who had also sung the role of Lucy in some stage performances - took over Pirate Jenny and made it her anthem. She subsequently appeared in the expanded, operatic version of Mahagonny, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and in a piece called Song of Hoboken in 1932. When the Nazis came to power, she and Weill, who was Jewish, emigrated to Paris, where Brecht and Weill composed their only work written specifically for her, the drama-ballet The Seven Deadly Sins. In 1935 they came to New York. Miss Lenya appeared in Max Rein-hardt's production of The Eternal Road; in concert versions of some of her husband's German works; in the Broadway play Candle in the Wind, and in the short-lived Firebrand of Florence, for which Weill composed the music. But her English was limited and she eventually abandoned her stage career. Weill's early death in 1950 changed things. At first she was desolate. "When he died, I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out," she told The Times. But the next year Miss Lenya was remarried, to an editor named George Davis, who died in 1957. It was with his strong encouragement that she resumed her career and took up the task of restoring Weill's work to public consciousness. It was a task that became a mission, and it took up most of the rest of her life. That mission began with a concert performance in early 1951 at Town Hall of The Threepenny Opera. Later that year Miss Lenya returned to the stage, appearing as Socrates's wife in Maxwell Anderson's Barefoot in Athens; Anderson had been a close collaborator and friend of Weill. But it was not until the Carmen Capalbo staging of Marc Blitzslein's adaptation of The Threepenny Opera opened at the Theater de Lys in Greenwich Village in 1954 that Miss Lenya's new American career was under way in earnest. The show Was such a hit that, after it was forced to close because of a previous booking at the theater, it reopened there the next year and ran for nearly seven years. From tne mia-aos, Miss Lenya led a full-scale revival of Weill's European work. Her work for Weill had a catalytic effect on the rediscovery of his music, but her actual influence is now thought by many to have been partly a distortion. By concentrating on the European work in which she herself had appeared, she skewed historical appreciation back onto that period, to the detriment of Weill's American shows and operas. For the most part they are now rarely performed, although Street Scene is in the repertory of the New York City Opera. Gradually, Miss Lenya's career apart from Weill began to blossom, although she tended to be typecast as a symbol of Weimar Germany. In 1966 she appeared as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret. Her films, apart from The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, included From Russia With Love, Roman Polanski's What? and Semi-Tough. Gray Skies Prevail at Final Services for Singers' Mother BUTCHER HOLLOW, Ky. (UPI) - Country music stars Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle returned to the Kentucky mountains Saturday to bury their mother under a lead gray November sky in this old coal mining hamlet made famous in the movie Coal Miner's Daughter. Private graveside services in a century-old cemetery were held for Mrs. Clara Webb Butcher, 69, who died of lung cancer Tuesday. Behind the old cemetery loomed Mrs. Butcher's- beloved Kentucky hills, their trees leafless except for an occasional evergreen. She was buried next to her first husband, Ted Webb, who helped her rear eight children in their poverty-stricken Appalachian home, including the two superstar sisters. Five extra Kentucky state police cruisers and Johnson County sheriff's deputies were pressed into service to help handle traffic for the funeral cortege along the 7 miles from a Paintsville funeral home to Butcher Hollow. Services for Mrs. Butcher were held earlier at the funeral home with the Rev. Lowell Webb, pastor of the Free Will Baptist Church of Van Lear, officiating. Ms. Lynn and Ms. Gayle wore somber clothing but not mourning black. Bill R. Phelps, manager of the Jones-Preston Funeral Home, estimated more than 300 people, mostly relatives and friends, dropped by Friday to pay their respects. . "The crowd would have been much larger if I hadn't had it put out to the press and media that the family requested that the funeral services be private," he said. Phelps said Ms. Lynn and Ms. Gayle both have a number of relatives still living in the area. "There are some brothers and sisters, I believe, and a great number of cousins," he said. Mrs. Butcher died in a Nashville, Tenn., hospital from complications arising from cancer operations on her lungs. All of one lung and a portion of another had been removed by surgeons. Ms. Lyjin said in her autobiography that it was her mother who taught her and her brother and sisters to read and write. "When Mommy was six," Ms. Lynn wrote, "her mother died from the fever, and after that, she was on her own a lot. She'd go from one family to another. If somebody was having a baby, she'd take care of the other kids." The story of Ms. Lynn's youth in Butcher Hollow and her rise to the heights of country music fame was also tojd in the movie, Coal Miner's Daughter. Dr. Max Euwe, 80, Dies; 1935 World Chess Champ 1981 N.Y. TIMES NEWS SERVICE Dr. Max Euwe, the world chess champion from 1935 to 1937 and former president of the Netherlands-based International Chess Federation, died of a heart attack Thursday at a hospital in Amsterdam where he had been recovering from major surgery. He was 80 years old. A tall, taciturn, bespectacled Dutchman with a studious mien and a courtly manner, Euwe was in the front ranks of chess nearly all his life, first as a child prodigy, then as a national and world competitor and, from 1970 until his retirement in 1978, as president of the Federation Internationale des Eschecs. . As the game's top administrator, Euwe drew on his knowledge of chess, his friendships with leading players, his tact and charm to keep match arrangements from falling apart and to negotiate compromises and soothe bruised egos in the emotional, pugnacious and politically volatile world of professional chess. He was, for example, credited with saving the turbulent 1972 world championship match in Reykjavik, Iceland, between Bobby Fischer of the United States and Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union despite repeated demands, threats, protests and other outbursts by Fischer, who won the championship. , . Three years later, Euwe's powers of persuasion were unable to get Fischer to defend his title, which fell by default to Anatoly Karpov, the current world champion. Euwe urged nations to subsidize chess and opposed nationalistic barriers to the game. In 1976 when Soviet champions and many Arab chess players boycotted the Chess Olympiad because Haifa, Israel, was the match site, Euwe was instrumental in having the International Chess Federation sanction the event. Born in Amsterdam on May 5, 1901, Max Euwe (pronounced ER-va) earned a doctorate and high honors in mathematics at Amsterdam University and as a young man taught math at a girls' school In his schooldays, he played soccer and tennis and also boxed, but chess became his life. OPEN DAILY 9:30-9:00 7IL Christmas eve . . . SUNDAY, 12:00-5:00 cblledienne shoos o I Lacey Lovelies for Lovely Ladies jjei a ' . ' ' l OWV black, whitei Soft-cup front closure lff&lP'-$i '-''J 11 M, Y& HPfffm bra 32-36. 8.00; Bikini. S-M-L. S.SO I 'Vjsjj comeo or Dover fog WARNERS !sk. lf -"7" Fancy works group in white or ' ft yrCV beige. Contour bra, 32-38, 13.00; w .JT VVtA , , . Matching bikini, 5-7. 4.50. Also Y - !' t'2i matching camisole and petti. "Sfi - 'Cyi ' " jj

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