Royal Road Productions Executive Producer Karyn Levitt is also a celebrated soprano. Noted by London Times critic Irving Wardle for allowing Eisler’s songs “to bloom and be beautiful in a way which is undoubtedly musically expressive," Ms. Levitt made her Café Sabarsky debut in March 2016 in her new cabaret show, Will There Still Be Singing? A Hanns Eisler Cabaret and her Town Hall debut in Happy Birthday Eric Bentley! A Centennial Tribute Concert for which she sang the world premiere of Songs for Mother Courage by Darius Milhaud and Eric Bentley, under the baton of four-time Emmy winner Glen Roven leading the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Levitt looks forward to many more performances of Will There Still Be Singing? A Hanns Eisler Cabaret and Songs for Mother Courage around the world.
In her production of Happy Birthday, Eric Bentley at The Town Hall NYC, Ms. Levitt was honored to share the stage with Michael Riedel, Tony Kushner, Austin Pendleton, Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, James Shapiro, Edward Mendelson, Phillip Lopate, Roger Copeland, and Michael Paller. As part of the evening, she performed several Brecht-Eisler songs with the distinguished pianist Eric Ostling, world-renowned accordionist William Schimmel, and Broadway guitarist Larry Saltzman.
With Eric Bentley, Ms. Levitt also curated Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Song Book, a concert with spoken word that she has performed with Eric Ostling at universities and cultural centers all over the country. This project received a major arts grant from Nokia in 2013 as well as a research grant from the Department of Exile Studies at the University of Southern California (USC). She has also written, produced, and performed her own shows at Carnegie Hall (Weill), Shakespeare & Company, Oberlin College, and numerous venues in New England. Her new album Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Song Book, recorded by Glen Roven and featuring pianist Eric Ostling, accordionist William Schimmel, and guitarist Larry Saltzman, was recently released in North America. Distributed by Naxos Records, the album is available on Amazon, in the Neue Galerie Book Store, and wherever CDs are sold. Later this fall, the album will be released in Europe.
Ms. Levitt is an Oberlin-trained performer who has appeared at Café Sabarsky in The Neue Galerie, The Town Hall-NYC, Carnegie Hall (Weill), and other distinguished venues. Levitt initiated her collaboration with Bentley in 2011 when she wrote a letter to the Theatre Hall of Fame inductee requesting counsel on a pending Weill-Brecht show she was planning. Bentley replied days later suggesting that instead of Weill, Levitt explore the works of a lesser known Brecht composer, Hanns Eisler, obtain Bentley’s 1967 The Brecht-Eisler Song Book, and listen to his 1964 recording Songs of Hanns Eisler. He agreed to meet after Levitt had completed her initial research. Levitt took on the research assignment before meeting with Bentley who ultimately presented her with his unpublished English versions of Hanns Eisler's lieder. Within two weeks, Levitt had recorded a demo of the material for her new mentor, who responded “Bravo, Karyn! Now create a whole show!”
Under Bentley’s guidance, Levitt and pianist Eric Ostling created an evening of Eisler's songs that has earned rave reviews around the country with Irving Wardle of the London Times raving “Karyn Levitt is doing something which, to my ears, is new. My acquaintance with the Eisler songs is limited to (other) singers (who have) a harsh and urgent style, very much a product of the cruel and dangerous times in which the work first appeared. Ms. Levitt's approach, it seems to me, is to negotiate a passage for these songs into the concert hall. In place of the gritty style, she allows them to bloom and be beautiful."
Karyn Levitt's training in classical voice began in Boston with soprano Janice Giampa and continues in New York City with William Barto Jones. Her background also includes producing, acting, improvisation, performance coaching, lecturing, and writing. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Ms. Levitt has a particular love for her native region’s Mexican cuisine, rugged desert landscape, and sunsets.