Blitzstein: The Cradle Will Rock

Reviewed on Wed 26 Sep, 2018

There's no denying the righteous punch of Blitzstein’s music – caught somewhere between Kurt Weill and Verdi, with Mozartian recitatives out of Arthur Miller and peppered by popular tunes of the day.

Here’s an invaluable release for anyone interested in American musical theatre’s operatic leanings: the first full recording of Marc Blitzstein’s original 1937 orchestration of The Cradle Will Rock, a controversially biting critique of surgent capitalism in Great Depression-era America originally directed by Orson Welles. Recorded live during performances at Opera Saratoga in 2017 (the company’s debut on disc), there’s much on-stage and audience noise and a recessed sound to negotiate but no denying the righteous punch of Blitzstein’s music – caught somewhere between Kurt Weill and Verdi, with Mozartian recitatives out of Arthur Miller and peppered by popular tunes of the day. John Mauceri leads the Saratoga Orchestra in performances as committed as vocal contributions from the three protagonists: Ginger Costa-Jackson’s vivid Moll, Matt Boehler’s villainous Mr Mister and Christopher Burchett’s aptronymic union organizer Larry Foreman. A bonus 14-minute commentary by Blitzstein is worth the price of the disc alone. Kudos to Bridge Records for capturing this piece of history.
–Michael Quinn