Tsar: Project Introduction
Kurt Weill remains one of the smartest and sublime composers of the first half of the 20thc. He falls into many categories. German, Jewish, Immigrant, American, breakthrough opera composer, early contributor to the American musical, and Hollywood composer.

The Tsar Has His Photograph Taken is effective theatre on many levels. It is a dark, social, political, satirical opera (or musical theatre piece). Each of these levels can be heightened or lessened depending on the performance and production.

It is set in Paris in the 1920's. The interior of a fashionable (perhaps edgy) photographers studio. The photographer is a woman named Angel. She has assistants and a delivery boy. She receives a telephone call that the Tsar is in town and would like to have her take his photograph. The studio is suddenly frantic.

The very idea is a bit absurd because most of Europe knows by this time that the Tsar and his family were murdered in 1918! So now he is seen in Paris, a bit like an Elvis sighting, strolling the Boulevard, looking for it seems adventure - alone.

Moments before he arrives, some conspirators (terrorists) arrive and swap impostors for the entire staff of the photographer's studio. Her goal (the impostor's goal) is to put a gun in the camera, position him, and shoot. She is drawn to her victim and he is turned on by her. So much so that he would like to take her picture.

This is the set up.

In addition there is an all male chorus which comments on the action.

Weill does some unusual things for an opera like playing a record on a
gramophone at the climax of the opera, and a telephone ringing. This was very deconstructive and theatrical.

This is just a beginning but something to give you a sense of it.