The Royal Opera House (ROH) is to stage the British premiere of a ballet by German-Jewish composer Kurt Weill that was lost in a library basement for 80 years. The ROH is showing Magical Night, or Zaubernacht, in December. The ballet tells the story of two children's toys brought to life. Weill composed it in Berlin in 1922 but it was lost after his death in 1950 when his papers were transferred to Yale University Library. His orchestration was mislabelled and languished in a locked safe, which was assumed to be empty until it was opened in 2005.
"It's a Nutcracker for the 21st century, it will be tackled with up-to-the-minute choreography that will reflect consumerism and whether toys are important to us because they are entertaining or embody human relationships," said John Lloyd Davies, head of opera development at ROH2, the opera house's contemporary arm.
Weill premiered the ballet in Berlin's in 1922. Its only other public performance was at New York's Garrick Theatre in 1925. He left his score behind when he fled Berlin in 1933, but the New York version survived him.
However, when his papers transferred to Yale, a librarian deposited the materials in the wrong safe. Two staff members rediscovered the safe six years ago, but had to consult a locksmith to open it as its combination had been lost.