In These Great Times
a collaboration with Long Beach Opera and Long Beach Playhouse
"Great times call for great men!" A highly explosive afternoon with musical excerpts from Robert Kurka's genre defying opera The Good Soldier Schweik and readings from the satiric anti-war drama The Last Days Of Mankind by Karl Kraus--Vienna's answer to Oscar Wilde.
The story of Schweik is a prequel to Catch-22 and M*A*S*H. Kurka's brilliant music preserves the bite and the hilarity of Jaroslav Hasek's original novel, whose hero symbolizes survival in a world gone mad. Kurka's music is in the heritage of Kurt Weill with a dollop of traditional Czech dances, American blues, and 1930's jazz thrown in, creating an exhilarating effect.
Come and meet the modest and unrecognized heroes, or "Schweiks", who are expected to do the killing whilst the armchair generals are drumming themselves into a psychotic rage!
Actors: Sonja Berggren, Michael Csoppenszky, Pete Taylor, Rebecca Taylor and Karen Wray.
Singers: John Atkins, Matthew DiBattista, Benito Galindo, Jesse Merlin, Alex Richardson and Jeremy Huw Williams.
More about Karl Kraus (1874-1936) and The Last Days of Mankind
An Austrian satirist, essayist, aphorist, playwright, and poet, Karl Kraus is considered the foremost German language satirist of the 20th century. His most important play, the pacifist piece, The Last Days of Mankind, arose from his reaction to World War I. For this play, Kraus was three times nominated by French academicians for a Nobel Prize in Literature. Actor Peter Lorre, a member of Kraus's Stammtisch, cited The Last Days of Mankind as one of his favorite plays. Kraus' aphorisms and poems have been translated into English, but he is still relatively unknown in English-speaking countries.
Born into a Jewish family, Kraus studied law at the University of Vienna. Due to a congenital abnormality, he did not serve in the army. At eighteen, he started publishing book and theater reviews, acted and sang. In 1899, he founded his own journal, DieFackel (The Torch). He converted to Catholicism, but renounced it in 1923. Kraus called Vienna the "research laboratory for world destruction" and in Die Fackel, he crusaded against hypocrisy, psychoanalysis, corruption of the Habsburg empire, nationalism of the pan-German movement, laissez-faire economic policies, and other signs of the times.
During World War I, Kraus was one of the most fierce critics of the militaristic atmosphere, a decade before Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front (1929).
Written between 1919 and 1922, The Last Days of Mankind drew analogies between life at the front and everyday absurdities in Vienna behind the lines. The satirical tragedy has about five hundred historical and fictitious characters including Kraus himself as the Grumbler. At the end, mankind destroys itself. The last line of the play is God saying, "I did not want it."