An American opera in two acts by Kurt Weill. Performed in German with surtitles
It is a hot summer evening. To get away from the heat, the residents of an apartment block gather in the street where neighbours Emma Jones, Greta Fiorentino and Olga Olsen exchange the latest gossip. Their neighbour Anna Maurrant is supposed to be having an affair with Steve Sankey who is also married. Abraham Kaplan is annoyed about the media’s craving for sensation, and janitor Henry Davies goes about his work singing. The women laugh about Daniel Buchanan who is nervous because his wife is about to have a baby. Frank Maurrant comes home mistrustful from work. He is annoyed that neither his son Willie nor daughter Rose are back yet. Anna Maurrant remembers the dreams and desires of her youth. Steve Sankey drops by unexpectedly. Anna heads off under the guise of looking for her son Willie but nobody believes her. - Ice cream for one and all! Lippo Fiorentino brings a welcome diversion. Frank Maurrant refuses to share the euphoria. He argues with Abraham Kaplan about parenting and the state of society, and claims that everything was better in the old days. Jenny Hildebrand comes home happy from her graduation ceremony. She has won a scholarship for art school. There is, however, a shadow hanging over her happiness: her family cannot pay the rent and they are to be evicted. Undeterred, the neighbours celebrate her future. Meanwhile Willie has been fighting with a fellow pupil who has been saying bad things about his mother. Once again the neighbours start gossiping about Anna Maurrant’s affair. Night falls and with it the longing for a different life: Sam feels lonely. Rose Maurrant’s boss Harry Easter tries to seduce her by making her glamorous promises but she longs for true love. Together with Sam, she dreams of happiness. Not like Mae Jones, daughter of Emma and George Jones: she comes home from dancing with her lover in a mood of drunken cheerfulness.
The next morning. Children are playing in front of the house. Frank Maurrant leaves on a business trip but before he goes there is a fierce family argument between himself, Rose and his wife Anna. When Willie appears, Anna finds comfort in her son. Shirley Kaplan, Sam’s older sister, asks rose to leave her brother alone because he should be concentrating on his studies. But Rose and Sam encourage each other in their desire to escape the sadness in which they are trapped. To Sam’s annoyance, Rose is collected shortly afterwards by Harry Easter so they can go together to the funeral of their old chief clerk, Mr. Gordon. Steve Sankey arrives and disappears into the house with Anna Maurrant. Meanwhile, the Hildebrand family are evicted. Frank appears unexpectedly. He surprises Anna and Sankey and shoots them. Rose returns from the funeral and learns of the murder. Two sensation-seeking nursemaids appear, searching for the place where the crime was committed. Frank Maurrant turns himself in. He has one last moment to speak to his daughter and assures her that he loved his wife Anna. Sam presses Rose to go away with him at last but Rose believes she has to leave on her own. New tenants view the vacant apartment. It is going to be another hot summer’s day …