Marcel Prawy — father of the Broadway musical in Vienna
Most people know Marcel Prawy as the Austrian opera expert. Few people are aware that he was responsible for bringing Broadway musicals to the Volksoper after the war and also organized the first German-language versions of American Broadway hits. He was born Marcell Horace Frydmann, Ritter von Prawy, in Vienna in 1911. In 1938 the famous singer Jan Kiepura saved him from persecution as a Jew by taking him to the USA as his personal secretary. In 1946 Prawy returned to Austria as a US culture officer. From 1952 to 1955 he worked as a presenter and compere under the patronage of the US Information Services Branch (ISB) and in this capacity brought musical shows to Vienna, which were received enthusiastically by the public. In 1955 he was appointed chief dramaturge at the Volksoper, where he attempted to introduce the unfamiliar musical genre into the repertoire, succeeding in spite of vigorous opposition by the Volksoper staff. The musical Kiss Me Kate in 1956 was one of his greatest successes and the first musical production in continental Europe. It was followed by Wonderful Town, West Side Story by his personal friend Leonard Bernstein, Annie Get Your Gun, Porgy and Bess, Show Boat, and many more. In 1972 he was appointed dramaturge at the Vienna State Opera, but kept a soft spot for musicals. As a producer, presenter, and compere of musical shows, radio and television programs, he presented his profound knowledge of the history of the American musical, its composers, librettists, and protagonists. Prawy died on February 23, 2003, and was buried in an honorary grave in the Central Cemetery.
Christoph Wagner-Trenkwitz is chief dramaturge of the Vienna Volksoper and a Prawy expert. He is co-author with Thomas Trabitsch of Glück, das mir verblieb, the catalogue accompanying the Marcel Prawy exhibition (2002) at the Austrian Theater Museum. His book Es grünt so grün … – Musical an der Volksoper, published in 2007, is a standard work, describing the musical world of Vienna through Prawy’s eyes. He regularly presents the radio transmission of the New Year’s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic and is also one of the TV commentators of the Opera Ball. He plans, writes, designs, and presents works and personalities from the world of opera, operetta, and musicals, and has also developed and produced radio and TV specials.
In the Jewish Museum, he will also present film and video clips chosen together with exhibition curator Alfred Stalzer.
Free admission from 6.45 pm
Photo (c) Volksoper Wien