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Successful September Openings for Kurt Weill's Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny – Two in Two Days

Oct. 13, 2022

A promising season for new productions of Weill works has begun at a quick pace, seeing two successful European openings of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny within two days of each other. Ivo van Hove’s production, which premiered at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in 2019, continued to make the rounds of its coproducers—which include the Metropolitan Opera and Dutch National Opera—with its current opening at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen. Reviewing for De Tijd, Koen van Boxem, who had also seen the first performances in Aix, remarked on how positive a transition the work made to the very different surroundings of the house in Antwerp: “A few years can make a real difference… Gone is the previous aloofness. Was it because of the smaller hall? Or the smaller stage? Or the immersion in the orchestra’s performance, led by chief conductor Alejo Pérez?” 

Van Hove’s heavy reliance on live video found some parallel in the new production that premiered at Theater Bonn only two days later. There, director Volker Loesch incorporated recorded video of recent catastrophic flooding in the region to put an environmentalist spin on the opera’s indictment of greedy capitalism. Bernhard Hartman of the Generalanzeiger singled out the opera’s two leads for special praise: “Tenor Matthias Klink (Jimmy) was in top form in this role both as a singer and as an actor. One of the musical highlights is the ‘Crane Duet’ after the brothel scene, which he sings with Natalie Karl (Jenny).”

(Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny | La Fura dels Baus | Teatro Real 2010 (DVD/Blu-ray trailer))