Live Cinema Season

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (2015)

Recorded | Opera

Running time: 3 hours (including 1 intervals)

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (2015)

John Fulljames presents a new production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s furiously impassioned satire on consumerism, starring Anne Sofie von Otter, Willard White and Christine Rice conducted by Mark Wigglesworth.

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 Jimmy McIntyre with his three friends.

The city swells with debauchery. Jim and Jenny try to escape, but find themselves still in Mahagonny. Jim is arrested and convicted of myriad crimes – chief among them a lack of money, punishable by death. He is executed and the city burns.


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' and neoclassicism in the terrifying 'Hurricane fugue'. 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.



Kurt Weill


Bertolt Brecht


John Fulljames

Set Designer

Es Devlin

Costume Designer

Christina Cunningham

Lighting Designer

Bruno Poet

Video designer 3

Finn Ross


Arthur Pita


Jeremy Sams


Mark Wigglesworth
Leocadia Begbick
Anne Sofie von Otter
Peter Hoare
Trinity Moses
Willard W. White
Christine Rice
Jimmy McIntyre
Kurt Streit
Jack O'Brien
Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts
Bank Account Bill
Darren Jeffery
Alaska Wolf Joe
Neal Davies
Toby Higgins
Hubert Francis
Paterson Joseph
Bar Pianist
Robert Clark
Royal Opera Chorus
Concert Master
Sergey Levitin
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

News and features

To find out more visit the Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (2015) production page.