About the program
Elisabeth Hauptmann and Bertolt Brecht’s school drama (intended for performance by children) was set to music by Kurt Weill. The resulting school opera was published in 1930, and it was produced the same year at the Central Institution for Pedagogy and Education. The play is based on a 15th-century Japanese Noh drama, which considers whether one should agree to be sacrificed for the community.
The opera relates a simple story in ten musical blocks. A boy sets out to a land beyond the mountains to bring medicine and help from the “great doctors” for his ill mother. He himself falls ill during the journey. He cannot go on, nor can his fellow travellers take him along. He agrees to be executed in accordance with an old “great custom”. From the mountain, he is pushed into a ravine, to death.
The boy’s “agreement” has been interpreted in a variety of manners: as a sign of religious conviction; as sacrifice for the community; as blind compliance with senseless norms; as respect towards the samurai tradition; or as a provocation of the audience, a call for debate. (Brecht also wrote a companion piece, He Said No, but it was never set to music.)
Weill and Brecht’s school opera represents the spirit of reform pedagogy – the intention is to link the sense of community and musical education through joint music making and acting, as well as to popularize a new thought in musical theatre. The play was often performed in schools, as originally intended. The non-professional productions erased the barrier between the performers and the audience, and the latter were often involved in the performance. Radio, the new medium of the period, was also employed to reach out to audiences that could not otherwise benefit from the blessings of culture, and the premiere was broadcast live.
3 000 HUF
Kurt Weill: Der Jasager (He Said Yes)
Eszter Novák, director
Students of the 2nd-year drama class of the University of Theatre and Film Arts (teachers, Gábor Zsámbéki, Andrea Fullajtár)