Arnold Weinstein Papers

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Arnold Weinstein papers

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Arnold Weinstein manuscript collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Papers of Arnold Weinstein, American poet, playwright, librettist, and translator. Includes manuscript drafts and final versions of libretti, music scores with Weinstein’s lyrics, manuscript and published literary works; research and background material related to individual works and projects, as well as programs, publicity material and reviews of shows.

Arnold Weinstein was born in New York on June 10, 1927, to English-born parents Ada and Samuel Weinstein. During the World War II, at the age of 16, Weinstein enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on a destroyer as a fireman. Instead of writing letters, he often wrote poems to his friends back at home.

After the War Weinstein studied Latin and Greek, and entered Hunter College (now Hunter College of the City University of New York) and graduated with a B.A. in 1951. As an undergraduate he also attended the University of London (1949-50). Weinstein then studied at Harvard University, earning a Rhodes scholarship and graduating with an M.A. in 1953. As a Fulbright fellow Weinstein continued his studies at University of Florence in 1958-1960. While in Florence, Weinstein met with William Bolcom, who was student of the French composer Darius Milhaud. Weinstein and Bolcom’s decades-long friendship and artistic collaboration resulted in a great body of work.

In the 1950s-1960 Weinstein became affiliated with a group of poets, painters and musicians known as the New York School of Poets. Among his notable works of this period were The Red Eye of Love, a satire about an all-meat department store that had a long Off Broadway run in 1961, and an adaptation of Ovid's Metamorphoses (music by Tony Greco), which went to Broadway in 1971.

Weinstein started working on a play The Red Eye of Love before going to Florence in 1958. The play first saw the stage after Weinstein’s return to the U.S. in 1960. In June 1961 The Red Eye of Love opened with music by William Bolcom and was well-received. The following year Weinstein’s musical Fortuna, Francis Thorne composer, was opened. Weinstein returned to collaboration with Bolcom in 1963, creating Dynamite Tonite, which was produced by the Actor’s Studio Theater, starring Barbara Harris and Alvin Epstein, Bolcom conducting. Dynamite Tonite was also produced by the Yale University School of Drama, and Weinstein was appointed Chair of the Yale Drama School Playwright Department in 1965-1969.

Weinstein’s collaboration with Bolcom resulted in the operas McTeague (1991, premiered 1992); A View from the Bridge (with Arthur Miller, premiered 1999); A Wedding (with Robert Altman, premiered 2004). The operas have been commissioned by and premiered at the Chicago Lyric Opera. Their one-woman opera Medusa written for Catherine Malfitano was performed in 2003 at the Carnegie Hall. Weinstein and Bolcom also created four volumes of cabaret songs (Volumes I-II in 1978, and Volumes III-IV in 1997), musical theater works Greatshot (1968); Barnyard Boogaloo (1980); Casino Paradise (1986-1990); choral Maha Sonnet (1990); Miracle, madrigals for male chorus after Giovanni Pascoli (1999), The Wind in the Willows, with Paul Sills (1991-2001); Ancient Cabaret (2001); Idiot’s Delight (2004); among other works.

Weinstein has worked with a number of important composers throughout his career, notably with composer Philip Glass; contemporary classical composer Francis Thorne; composer, arranger, and conductor for theater, television and film Laurence Rosenthal; the University of Michigan faculty member, composer, conductor, and pianist Bright Sheng; composer, conductor, performer and author David Amram; director and composer Tony Greco; the founder of Chicago’s Second City Theater Paul Sills; painters Andy Warhol, Marisol, Larry Rivers, Howard Kanovitz; scenic designer Robin Wagner; among other performing and visual artists.

Translation was important area of Weinstein’s theater work. Weinstein created a new translation of Berthold Brecht-Kurt Weill’s 1931 Mahagonny for the United States premiere in 1970. He also translated works of classical poets for Ancient Cabaret and Metamorphoses; from Federico Garcia Lorca for Gypsy New York (music by Tony Greco, 1974); and others.

Weinstein taught English, creative writing, and playwriting at New York University, the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Rutgers University, Yale University and Columbia University. He also served as Director of the drama workshop at Wagner College, summer writers conference, beginning in 1963.

Arnold Weinstein died in New York on September 4, 2005.

Please note:

Copyrights have not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Copyright is held by the Arnold Weinstein Intellectual Property Trust or other third parties. The Works are protected by copyright and permissions to use the Works must be obtained from the copyright owner for any uses of the Works other than for educational or research purposes. Users of the Works may not (i) remove, obscure or modify any copyright notices or other notices included in the Works, or (ii) use, or authorize the use of, Works in any manner that would infringe the copyright thereon.

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