Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars ONE MAJOR FAULT, June 3 2002
This review is from: Street Scene: Kurt Weill (Widescreen) (DVD)
Elmer Rice's sad, moving play, STREET SCENE, is a perfect example of Art triumphing with inspiration from a tragic source. In this case, it was the economic depression in America in the 1930's. Rice's play takes the inhabitants of a crowded tenement building during one particular oppressively hot summer day in New York City and lets us see them as individuals : the gossipy women who lean out of their windows to watch everyone passing by; Sam and Rose, young and in love and frightened to death of what the future holds; Rose's father, Frank, who passionately loves his wife but knows she is having an affair; the black janitor, Henry, who lives in the apartment house with the white people, but has his own dreams as an outsider; Mrs. Buchanan and her nervous husband who are having a baby; Jenny, coming home from her graduation, et al. Kurt Weill turned the play into a serious musical that opened on Broadway in 1947 but ever since has been performed in opera houses around the world. It is, arguably, the greatest achievement of Weill's career in the United States.
This particular DVD is a film from Germany of the production from the Houston Grand Opera and it is very good. The acting is first rate, as is the singing, esp. that of Teri Hansen as 'Rose Maurrant' and Kip Wilborn as 'Sam Kaplan' who sings of life in the apartment house: "Funny you can be so lonely with all these folks around." Particular credit must be given to the director, Francesca Zambello, one of the very few directors working in the great opera houses of the world who values the scores she directs more than she values her own ego.
One fault in this DVD (and I think it is a major one) is the fact that there are no "extras,"no documentaries on the making of the opera, the play or the DVD; there are no subtitles (even American singers do not project and perform American English so that it is totally comprehensible) and only a perfunctory bio of the musical genius Kurt Weill. One word about the lyrics. They are by the great American poet, Langston Hughes, and they are superb. One of my favorite lyrics appears in Sam's lament "Lonely House:" Sam is an unhappy young man who, without money, realizes there is no way he can marry the woman he loves. He cries, "Unhook the stars and take them down." Beautiful.
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