Jonny spielt auf (‘Jonny Strikes Up’)
- Charlotte Purkis
(‘Jonny Strikes Up’)
Oper in two parts by Ernst Krenek to his own libretto; Leipzig, Neues Theater, 10 February 1927.
Jonny is one of the most characteristic products of the Weimar Republic, embodying the mythology and fashions of its time and reflecting a growing conviction that music should be entertaining and relevant. Its overwhelming popular success established it as a model for a spate of ‘Zeitopern’, although it is fantastic and escapist compared with the more realistically ordinary settings of Hindemith. The plot, involving an opera, is laden with symbolism presenting contradictions in psychology, lifestyle and temperament between the old world and the new along an East–West axis. Although the opera is largely set in Paris (the work is Krenek’s response to his experiences there in the early 1920s), it is the image of America that focusses European longing for a new land of freedom and promise. Jonny appeared to indicate a change of direction for Krenek, but in fact its kaleidoscopic nature draws on earlier compositions such as the jazz elements of ...