(German: Der Silbersee: ein Wintermärchen)
Opera in three acts written by Georg Kaiser (libretto) and Kurt Weill (music) (1932/1933)

". . . I've had a very upsetting experience: the three songs from Der
Silbersee were a great success at the concert. Caesar 'Ballade von Caesars Tod',
a courageous attack obviously aimed against Hitler had to be repeated, because a
French composer, Florent Schmitt (approximately as talented as Max Butting),
got up and screamed 'Heil Hitler! Enough music by German refugees', etc.
- Kurt Weill in a letter to Lotte Lenya

After Weill's succesful collaboration with Brecht, the composer was looking for a
new work that would fit his definition of an opera that included modern music,
expressionist psycho-drama and social commentary ('volksoper'). Weill turned
back to his friend Georg Kaiser, who had finished a novel about a magical lake.
Both decided to set the text to music (mixed with the well known Weill elements,
The stories about the first performances of the Silverlake are well known: Nazis
caused turmoils at the performances and (after the burning of the ReichsTag) Weill
was forced to flee to Paris.

The story
The opera, tells about a land surrounding a Silverlake, which is struck by hunger
and Winter. Severin and companions decide to raid a grocery store, and as they escape,
Severin is shot by the policeman Olim. When the policeman only finds a pineapple in
Severin's bag, he feels quilty and changes the police records to set the wounded victim free.
In a surreal moment, Olim then finds out he has won the lottery, decides to buy a castle
and takes Severin with him to nurse him back to health.
The former castle owners, Frau von Luber and Baron Laur, immediately conspire against the
two, especially when their niece Fennimore finds out that Olim actually shot Severin.
When Severin finds out that Olim was the policeman that shot him, he chases him through
the castle. In trade for help, Olim signs a document that Frau von Luer hands him,
not knowing that he just signed a contract to hand the castle back to her and the Baron.
Fennimore manages to heal the wounds between Severin and Olim. They both discover
that they've lost the castle and decide to drown themselves in the Silverlake.
When they reach the lake, Winter turns into Spring but the lake still remains a
sheet of ice. Guided by the voice of Fennimore they cross the lake.

Musical structure (musical intermezzos are in English/Bold)
  • Ouverture
  • 'Gräbst du?'
  • 'Wir tragen den Hunger zu Grabe'
  • 'Der Bäcker backt am Morgenrot'
  • 'Wir sind zwei Mädchen'
  • Choral pursuing Olim to set Severin free
  • Lied des Lotterieagenten (The Song of the Lottery Agent)
  • Olim's visit at the Hospital¹
  • 'Was soll ich essen in der Morgenfrühe?'
  • Fennimore's 'banana dance' on the table²
  • 'Ich bin eine arme Verwandte' (Fennimores Lied)
  • 'Rom hiess eine Stadt' (Ballade von Cäsars Tod)
  • 'Erst trifft dich die Kugel' (Rache-Aria)
  • Intermezzo, Severin chasing Olim
  • 'Auf jener Strasse'
  • 'Wie Odysseus an den Mast des Schiffes'
  • 'Es wächst uns in den Mund der Wein' (Schlaraffenland-Song)
  • Finale/Choral, Olim and Severin at the Lake
  • 'Alles was ist, ist beginnen'

¹ Accompanying music is a 'pizzicato' version of 'Der Bäkker...'.
² 'The banana dance' is a jazzy intermezzo (foxtrot-tempo) where Fennimore
dances on the table. Am not sure if this part was shown during the first per-

Additional sources:

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