Five College Consortium

Five College Music Program

Five College Opera 2014: Street Scene

five college opera street scene photo

by Kurt Weill, Elmer Rice, and Langston Hughes
directed by Gina Kaufmann 
musical direction by Mark Swanson 

choreography by Erica Wilson-Perkins
Feb. 21, 26, 28, March 1 at 8 p.m. 
Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. 
The Rand Theater (For this production, tickets will be reserved seating.)

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Street Scene is the most influential show you’ve never heard of. This 1947 artistic hybrid, the result of an unlikely collaboration among playwright Elmer Rice, poet Langston Hughes and composer Kurt Weill, left a huge mark on musical theater, with everyone from Cole Porter to Stephen Sondheim taking inspiration from its innovations.

And just as three very different men came together to create this American opera about life in a run-down Manhattan tenement, a diverse group of artists is collaborating to mount a mammoth production with a three story set, a forty-person cast and a thirty-piece orchestra, opening Feb. 21 in the Rand Theater at UMass.

Three performances celebrate the collective genius behind upcoming opera

Langston Hughes, Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice—the creative team that collaborated on the Tony-award-winning opera Street Scene—enjoyed wide and varied careers in their respective fields. Three performances, each highlighting the work of one of these artists, will lead up to the Five College Opera/UMass Department of Theater production of Street Scene.

Cabaret! Songs of Kurt Weill
Sunday, February 2, 4 p.m.
Sweeney Concert Hall, Smith College

Kurt Weill, composer of “Mack the Knife” and so many other standards from the 1940s, has had a huge impact on popular music. His songs have been recorded by performers as diverse as Nina Simone, PJ Harvey, The Doors and Sting. Renowned local pianist Clifton Noble and Five College student singers perform some of Weill’s best known songs alongside of many of his lesser-known pieces.

Hold Fast to Dreams: The Poetry of Langston Hughes
Sunday, February 9, 4 p.m.
Bezanson Recital Hall, Fine Arts Center, UMass

Langston Hughes, jazz poet, social activist, novelist and playwright, portrayed the lives of working class blacks in America. UMass professor Steven Tracy hosts an evening of recitations and musical performances of Hughes’ greatest works.

Stirring The Melting Pot: Elmer Rice's We, The People
Sunday, February 16, 2 p.m.
University Museum of Contemporary Art, Fine Arts Center, UMass

Elmer Rice was an American playwright noted for his often experimental and politically charged plays. This will be a reading of his great polemical work We, The People by a mix of Five College students and Pioneer Valley residents.

Each show is free and open to the public.