Episode 245. Tell It to the World: Germany

Episode 245. Tell It to the World : Germany



Here is the second of a two part series in celebration of David Savran’s new book, Tell It to the World: The Broadway Musical Abroad, a monumental study on transnationalism and the Broadway-style musical. In the first part, David and I spoke about (and played examples from) the rich culture surrounding musicals in South Korea. Today’s episode focuses on Germany and the influx of Broadway musicals since World War II. Although the German-speaking world has a long tradition of popular music theatre, most notably operetta, the arrival of American musicals (beginning in 1955 with Kiss Me, Kate) made a very big splash. In 1961, My Fair Lady opened in West Berlin, became a sensational success, and permanently changed the shape of German musical theatre. Both Kiss Me, Kate and My Fair Lady are part of the first wave of Broadway musicals that have become part of the standard repertoire in state-subsidized theatre (the others include Cabaret, Anatevka (Fiddler on the Roof), West Side Story, La Cage aux Folles, and Hair).

We also look at the development of home-grown Broadway-style musicals in both West and East Germany from the 1960s through the 1980s and their subsequent impact on the work of experimental theatre makers. The next to last chapter of the book studies the musical farces directed by the great theatrical innovator, Herbert Fritsch, since 2011. The last focuses on the work of Barrie Kosky at the Komische Oper Berlin and how he turned that house into the foremost theatre in Germany for innovative re-imaginings of Broadway musicals, with emphasis on iconoclastic stagings by Kosky (and other directors) of the work of Kurt Weill. We play examples from many of the thrilling productions about which David writes which deserve to be known by a much wider audience. Along the way we also listen to nearly a century’s worth of performances by some legendary performers of German operetta and musicals, including Fritzi Massary, Olive Moorefield, Gisela May, Max Hansen, Dagmar Manzel, Horst Schulze, Ruth Rosenfeld, Julia Migenes, Julia Koci, and the late Rainer Luhn.


In Frisco ist der Teufel los, production at Musikalische Komödie Leipzig (1965)

Guido Masanetz: Overtüre (In Frisco ist der Teufel los). Robert Hanell, Großes Orchester des Deutschlandsenders [1971]

Cole Porter, Günter Neumann [German lyrics]: Ich bin dein für alle Zeit [So in Love] (Kiss Me Kate). Olive Moorefield, Orchester Johannes Fehring [1966]

Max Hansen

Ralph Benatzky, Robert Gilbert: Es muß was Wunderbares sein (Im weißen Rößl). Max Hansen, Paul-Godwin-Tanz-Orchester [1930]

William Gaxton (L) and Kitty Carlisle in White Horse Inn (Broadway 1936)

Ralph Benatzky, Irving Caesar [English lyrics]: I Cannot Live Without Your Love (White Horse Inn). William Gaxton, Kitty Carlisle, Orchestra conducted by Richard Baravalle [RCA Magic Key Broadcast 25.X.1936]

Fritzi Massary

Oscar Straus, Alfred Grünwald [after Louis Verneuil]: Warum soll eine Frau kein Verhältnis haben? (Eine Frau, die weiß, was sie will). Fritzi Massary, Orchestra conducted by Hans Schindler [1932]

A two-page spread from the My Fair Lady program (Theater des Westens 1961)

Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay Lerner, Roland Gilbert [German lyrics]: Wäre det nich wundascheen? [Wouldn’t It Be Loverly] (My Fair Lady) Karin Huebner, Franz Allers, Orchester des Theater des Westens [1962]

Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Marcel Prawy [German lyrics]: Etwas fliegt auf mich zu [Something’s Coming] (West Side Story). Adolf Dallapozza, Lawrence Leonard, Orchester der Wiener Volksoper [1968]

Julia Migenes and Marcel Prawy (R) in rehearsal for West Side Story (Vienna 1968)

Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Marcel Prawy [German lyrics]: Heut’ nacht [Tonight] (West Side Story). Julia Migenes, Adolf Dallapozza, Lawrence Leonard, Orchester der Wiener Volksoper [1968]

Mein Freund Bunbury revival (Musikalische Komödie Leipzig 2014)

Gerd Natschinski, Jürgen Degenhardt [after Oscar Wilde]: Mein Freund Bunbury (Mein Freund Bunbury). Horst Schulze, Eberhard Büchner, Gerd Natschinski, Großes Rundfunk-Orchester Berlin [1972]

Guido Masanetz, Mauritius Janowski: Schaut mich einer an (In Frisco ist der Teufel los). Gisela May, Robert Hanell, Großes Orchester des Deutschlandsenders [1971]

Rio Reiser

Rio Reiser [né Ralph Möbius], Ralph Steitz: Schritt für Schritt ins Paradies. Ton Steine Scherben [1972]

Ton Steine Scherben
A staging of Herr Fressack und die Bremer Stadtmusikanten presented by the Theater Koblenz, June 2023

Rio Reiser [né Ralph Möbius]: Ich will nicht mehr das arme Schwein sein (Herr Fressack und die Bremer Stadtmusikanten). Ton Scheine Scherben [1973]

Birger Heymann, No Ticket [Axel Kottmann, George Kranz, Matthias Witting, Michael Brandt, Richard Wester], Volker Ludwig: Mut zum Träumen (Linie 1). Ensemble des Grips Theater, No Ticket [1986]

Tom Waits, William S. Burroughs: The Black Rider (The Black Rider). Tom Waits [1990 demo]

Paul Burkhard, Jürg Amstein [after Emil Sautter]: O mein Papa (Der schwarze Hecht). Ruth Rosenfeld and Ensemble (Hubert Wild, Carol Schuler, Jean-Pierre Cornu, Jessica Früh, Lisa-Katrina Mayer, Hans Schenker, Lena Schwarz, Robert Hunger-Bühler, Rahel Hubacher, Gottfried Bretifuss, Miriam Maertens, Benedict Fellmer, Nehrun Aliev, Claudia Kühne, Magdalena Irmann), Bendix Dethleffsen, Roman Vinuesa, Michael Wilhelmi [live Zürich Fall 2014]

Hugo Wolf, Eduard Mörike, arr. Carsten Meyer, Ruth Rosenfeld: Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens (Wer hat Angst vor Hugo Wolf?). Ruth Rosenfeld, Carol Schuler, Carsten Meyer [live, Schauspielhaus Zürich 23.IV.2016]

Dagmar Manzel in Kiss Me Kate (Komische Oper 2008)

Cole Porter, Susanne Wolf [German lyrics]: Bloß kein Mann [I Hate Men] (Kiss Me Kate). Dagmar Manzel, Koen Schoots, Orchester der Komischen Oper [live Berlin 31.V.2008]

Roger Smeets and the gay cowboys in Kiss Me Kate (Komsiche Oper 2008)
Julia Koci as Liza Elliott in Lady in the Dark, Wiener Volksoper, 2021

Kurt Weill, Ira Gershwin, Roman Hinze [German lyrics]: Mein Schiff [My Ship] (Lady in the Dark). Julia Koci, James Holmes, Orchester der Wiener Volksoper [live Vienna XII.2021]

Kurt Weill, Georg Kaiser: Cäsars Tod (Der Silbersee). Hanne Roos, Karel Deseure, Orchestra of the Opera Ballet Vlaanderen [live Antwerp X.2021]

Jerry Herman, Erika Gesell [German lyrics]: Ich bin was ich bin [I Am What I Am] (La Cage aux Folles [Ein Käfig voller Narren]. Rainer Luhn with Studio Orchestra [1998]

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