Der Kuhhandel

Der Kuhhandel, by Kurt Weill ★★
This opera is about the country of Santa Maria that started as a peaceful, happy country, until corruption encouraged the leaders into an arms race with a neighboring country, resulting in oppressive taxation and brutality to its citizens. The staging was not totally minimalistic, and so was endurable for a European-produced production, and the singing/acting was well done. The opera was interesting in that if one simply closed their eyes and listened to the music, they would imagine that they were listening to a modern American movie-musical, such as a Rogers & Hammerstein musical or the Wizard of Oz, etc. I am sure that Kurt Weill had a major influence on the later composition of musicals.
So, why the poor rating? Weill was a Jewish composer that had to flee Germany during the Nazi years, eventually dying at age 50 in NYC. His political leanings tended toward Communism, and this opera represents a very strong leaning toward the same. Yet, it represents highly confused thinking, possibly attributing to why the opera never really became popular. The corrupt government is the source of evil. Simple, primitive life is good. The government is hell-bent on destroying your life while living themselves a life of luxury. Unfortunately, all of these traits were present in virtually all of the socialistic or communistic regimes of the 20th century. When Weill protests capitalism, he also glorifies capitalism by extolling the virtues of owning private property (a cow, which is the peasant’s means of producing a living). Such muddled thinking is so true of most liberals today, shooting a “capitalist” straw man. Weill seems to protest moral decadence by having the fat government officials relishing in a brothel, yet, had the brothel maidens dancing in the forefront at the end of the opera. Perhaps Weill needs better direction as to a real (I actually mean, only) system of morality.