Odysseus Almost Makes It to Broadway: The Ulysses Africanus of Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson

Rabel, Robert J.
April 2007
International Journal of the Classical Tradition;Spring2007, Vol. 13 Issue 4, p550
Academic Journal
Between the end of 1938 and the beginning of 1939, Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson began working together on a musical comedy entitled Ulysses Africanus, which was intended to be performed on Broadway. The play tells an Odyssey-like story set in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Various problems attended attempts to stage the play, and the project was eventually abandoned. Weill and Anderson later mined the play for elements of plot and several songs that were subsequently incorporated into Lost in the Stars, their best know work. While several scholars have studied the music originally written for the play, no one has yet studied its relationship to the Odyssey. While in no sense a masterpiece of dramatic art, Ulysses Africanus—if more widely known—would certainly win a modest place among twentieth-century works influenced by Homer's Odyssey.


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