Tenor James Benjamin Rodgers is an alumnus of the 2008 Merola Opera Program. Born in New Zealand and currently living in New York, Rodgers sang the lead in the 2008 Merola production of Benjamin Britten’s opera Albert Herring. More recently he has been focusing his attention on the music of Kurt Weill; and he will be returning to San Francisco to launch his new CD, Exiled: The Evolution of Kurt Weill at a house concert that will be open to the public but on a very limited basis.
Those who read my 2012 article about Stephen Hinton’s extensive study of Weill, Weill’s Music Theater: Stages of Reform, know that there is far more to this composer than “Mack the Knife” and “My Ship.” Rodgers’ new recording covers the period of Weill’s life between his 1933 escape from Nazi Germany to his move to New York in 1935, after an intervening stay in Paris. Paris is where he composed the score for “The Seven Deadly Sins;” and The Threepenny Opera had been given its premiere on Broadway in April of 1933, two years before his arrival in the city.
The program Rodgers has prepared for his launch recital is entitled Kurt Weill: The Man and His Music. He first performed it in New Zealand in 2012. His accompanist will be his wife, Jillian Zack.
This concert will be given at the home of Peter Winkelstein, longtime supporter of both the San Francisco Opera and the Merola Opera Program. Winkelstein lives in Sea Cliff at 129 24th Avenue. The performance will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 30. Tickets may be purchased online for $50 through a hyperlink to Rodgers’ Web site with information about the recording. Further information may be obtained by calling 347-699-3455.