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Lotte Lenya in Brecht’s “Mother Courage” July 23, 2010

Posted by ucisca in Early UCI Campus.
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Lotte Lenya, the world renowned German actress, came to UCI to perform in the title role of Bertolt Brecht’s play Mother Courage in November 1971. She did the play, with a cast of UCI students, under the direction of her long-time friend, New York director Herbert Machiz (below left, with Lenya and a student actor). This was the first time that she had done the play in America in English. While she was here, Lenya, who was 73 at the time, lived in an apartment near the ocean in Laguna Beach. Early in her career, she married the German composer and song writer Kurt Weil, in 1926. He was best known for his collaborations with playwright Bertold Brecht. Lenya was an overnight sensation in the role of Jenny in the premier of the Brecht-Weil play the Threepenny Opera in 1928. Lenya and Weil moved from Germany to Paris in 1933 and then to New York. All of Weil’s and Brecht’s work was banned in Germany by the Nazis. Lotte Lenya had great success as an actress on the stage and in film throughout her life, but she may have been best known for her performances of Kurt Weil songs, e.g.  “Mack the Knife” and “Pirate Jenny” from the Threepenny Opera and “Alabama Song” from Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.  Lotte Leyna died in New York in 1981. She is buried next to Kurt Weill in Haverstraw, New York.

AS-051. Beth Koch photographs of the University of California, Irvine, 1963-1984 . Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.

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