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Measure for Measure composer Adam Wernick discusses the creation of the cabaret preshow. Read the introductory post.
“I’m very pleased with how this song turned out,” says Wernick. “In some respects it was the most important song of the cabaret, since Mariana sings it, and she plays a crucial role in the plot. Jonathan encouraged me to have more stylistic freedom for this song, and not to get locked into the style of the period. My original inspiration for the song was the Thelonius Monk tune Round Midnight, but there were a whole bunch of other influences, from Kurt Weill to Michel Legrand, and even a song from the TV show Smash that I thought had exactly the kind of musical and emotional build. I even took the time to transcribe it and study the harmonic vocabulary so I could see what the songwriting tricks were. It was a good lesson in song-writing craft.
Unlike the first two numbers, the breakthrough on this song came harmonically and melodically. “[Director] Jonathan [Munby] wanted the song to reach a climax of anguished emotion that then trickled off into utter despair. So, I had to figure out the best harmonic and melodic devices to achieve this. There was one harmonic device I hit upon—a chain of diminished chords—that helped to extend and shape the musical phrase in just the right way to convey Mariana’s descent into sorrow and loneliness.”
More than any of the other songs, Immer Wieder demands a singer of great skill and range. “I remember the first time Natascia Diaz sang it in the rehearsal hall,” Wernick says. “This dead silence fell over the room. Everybody was just completely rapt. Natascia has a very powerful voice, which carries an incredible amount of emotion.” The lyrics were adapted from two classic German-language poems by Rainer Maria Rilke (Immer Wieder) and Heinrich Heine (Ich Kann Nicht es Vergessen).
|Time and again,
however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there,
Ob wir die Lust
Und deren Landschaft auch kennen,
|with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss
into which the others fall:
|Die klagende Namen.
Die unheimliche Lücke,
In welcher andere enden,
Die ärgste Not!
|I can’t forget I had you,
Dear woman, sweet to hold,
That I once possessed you,
Your body, and your soul.
|Ich kann es nicht vergessen,
Mein Engel, Geliebter,
Dass ich dich einst besass
Meine Seele, im Himmel, Himmel.
|Time and again
the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees,
Gehn wir zu zwei
Hinaus unter die alten Bäume!
|I still want your body,
That body young and true,
They can bury your soul, love,
I’ve soul enough for two.
We must be one soul and body too.
|Dein Lieb, möcht ich haben
Deinen Leib so zart und jung.
Liebster, immer wieder
Müssen wir ganz Leib und Seele sein
Komm jetzt zu mir, komm zu mir.
|Time and again,
Lie down again and again
among the flowers,
face to face with the sky.
Darum lagern wir uns
Gegenüber den Himmel.
Learn about the other songs in the cabaret: