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Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

10 March—4 April 2015
Main Stage

John Fulljames presents a new production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's furiously impassioned satire on consumerism.

When to see it

The Story

Three criminals on the run find they can go no further and found a city – Mahagonny, city of gold. The destitute and the disenchanted flock to Mahagonny, among them the prostitute Jenny and the lumberjack Jim Mahoney with his three friends.

Read more… (Contains spoilers)

Background

The three-year genesis of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) spanned the entire partnership between Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill – one of the most fruitful and shortest musical collaborations of the 20th century. The great success of their first work together, the Mahagonny Songspiel (1927), encouraged the two to adapt it into a full-length opera. But progress stalled as the two men discovered their theories were developing in deeply divergent directions: Brecht eager to pursue the disjointed effect of his theories of epic theatre, Weill looking for ways to unify very different styles of music. Concerns from first the publishers and then producers over the work's 'depravity' further increased the disruption. The riot at the opera's premiere on 9 March 1930 was the beginning of the end of Weill's career in Germany.

The troubled development of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny only adds to the work's extraordinary power as one of the most unsettling and provocative of all operas. This is Weill at his most brilliant and inventive, incorporating popular song in the 'Alabama Song', neoclassicism in the terrifying 'Hurricane fugue' and soaring romanticism in the exquisite 'Crane Duet'. The Royal Opera's Associate Director of Opera John Fulljames directs The Royal Opera’s first production of the work in collaboration with designer Es Devlin (Don Giovanni, Les Troyens). They focus on Brecht and Weill's stinging critique of consumerism while finding new relevance in our insatiable depletion of the earth's resources.

On Wikipedia

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) is a political-satirical opera composed by Kurt Weill to a German libretto by Bertolt Brecht. It was first performed on 9 March 1930 at the Neues Theater in Leipzig.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, available under a Creative Commons license.