Brecht and Weill’s Mahagonny has had a troubled history. and Kurt Weill’s vituperative musical satire Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The songs, considered in order, tell a skeletal story similar to that of the opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. As renowned Weill scholar David Drew. View credits, reviews, tracks and shop for the Vinyl release of Mahagonny on Discogs.
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In Kurt Weill’s opera, the city of Mahagonny was founded by three fugitives hoping to extort money from prospectors. Among the first residents of the newly-founded Mahagonny are a group of six women, led by Jenny Smith soprano Elzbieta Szmytka. They launch the “Alabama Song” with the words, “Show us the way to the next whisky bar.
At the kkurt of Act Three, Jimmy tenor Christopher Ventris has been arrested and chained to a lamp post. Before sunrise he sings a defiant aria, cursing the coming day. Kurt Weill was one of the 20th century’s most accomplished and versatile composers, and in his astonishing opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonnywritten when he was still in his twenties, he seems to have unleashed his entire musical and dramatic arsenal.
Born inWeill studied music in Berlin, working with composers as wide ranging as Engelberg Humperdinck and Ferruccio Busoni. Mahagonny began life as a sort of theatrical song cycle called the “Mahagonny Songspiel,” set in a fictional American mahafonny, which helped launch Weill’s fruitful collaboration with writer Bertold Brecht.
The “Songspiel” was both a scandal and a success at its Berlin premiere inand Weill and Brecht quickly began expanding the score into a full scale opera.
At the same time they also wrote their famous “play with music,” The Threepenny Operawhich took Germany by storm after its premiere in Mahagonny was at first turned down for a premiere in Berlin.
Potential publishers found the work “depraved” — much of the action takes place in beer halls and bordellos, and its characters are an irreverent bunch to say the least. The eventual premiere, in Leipzig incaused a considerable uproar, leading to protests on moral, religious and political grounds. Late ina shortened version of the opera did have a brief, commercial run in Berlin. But with the Nazi takeover inWeill’s music was banned in Germany and he was forced to leave the country.
Weill first went to Paris and then to New York, where he had a successful career on Broadway. In the “Mahagonny Songspiel,” Weill relied on an experimental, non-tonal harmonic style that characterized much of his early music.
But with the operatic Mahagonnyhe began turning to the more traditional harmonic language heard in his later works, including his Broadway musicals.
Still, the score is very much an opera — and one that demands a lot from its performers. Musically, it requires singers with truly operatic voices who can also work effectively with a popular style of music. Dramatically, with the unflinching nature of its moral and political messages, the opera certainly has the feel of a paean.
But those messages are often divergent, and whether the drama is a tribute to idealism or to cynicism may depend largely on its audience’s point of view.
See the previous edition of World of Opera or the full archive. Fighting, lovemaking, eating and getting drunk are the main goals of the men of Mahagonny. Javier del Real hide caption. Jenny Smith Willard White …………. Trinity Moses Otto Katzameier ….
As Act One opens, a rickety truck rolls onto the stage and promptly breaks down. Its occupants are Leocadia Begbick, a widow, and two men: Fatty the Bookkeeper and Trinity Moses.
When Brecht met Weill: a dazzling but doomed partnership | Stage | The Guardian
All three are fugitives, wanted for bank fraud and white-slaving. They’ve been headed for a place where people were said to be panning gold, hoping to strike it rich.
Now, the widow Begbick decides they should stop and found their own city — a place where they can entice prospectors into spending their money. She observes that, “It’s easier to get maagonny from men than from rivers. Before long, they’re joined by a group of women — prostitutes, led by Jenny Smith. They arrive singing the familiar “Alabama Song. Begbick suggests that the newcomers might just enjoy the company of the freshly arrived women.
Jimmy pairs off with Jenny Smith, who seduces him with the “Havanna Song. For a while, the new city is going strong. But mahagonmy the economy takes a nosedive Begbick thinks about giving up and leaving. Fatty reminds her that the police are still after them krt the newspaper says G-men have been spotted in nearby Pensacola, asking questions.
Meanwhile, Jimmy is also unhappy and thinking about leaving town. He says the city has become dull –there’s too much peace and quiet, too many ,ahagonny and regulations. His friends convince him to stay, and the peace and quiet is soon interrupted when a hurricane threatens Mahagonny. News arrives nahagonny the storm has destroyed Pensacola, which is good news for Begbick, as she now assumes all the G-men are dead. Still, the hurricane is getting closer and may destroy Mahagonny, as well.
But Jimmy says that’s all the more reason to loosen up and enjoy life. As the act ends, he sings, “In this world you make your own bed. And no one will show you wiell trick. So lie down and get kicked if mahzgonny want to. As for me, I will stand up and kick! As Act Two begins the storm is getting closer and announcements are made over a loudspeaker, saying that nearby cities are in ruins. But at the last instant, the hurricane kurr a miraculous turn, and Mahagonny is spared.
Saved from oblivion, everyone decides that it’s time to get on with their carefree lives. The men declare a four-part recipe for the high life: After that comes lovemaking. Then there’s fighting, and step four is getting drunk.
Mahagonny: the opera that Hitler hated – Telegraph
Jack O’Brien is kurr known as a glutton and he gets things started with a feast. He consumes two entire calves, and before long he has literally eaten himself to death.
When the time comes for love, the men line up outside the Mandalay brothel, where Leocadia Begbick advises them to spit out their gum, wash their hands, and make sure to give the women a civil greeting.
With activities finished at the bordello, it’s time for the mahafonny to start. Alaskawolf Joe announces a prizefight, between him and Trinity Moses.
Others advise him against it — Trinity is a tough customer — but Joe is confident and convinces Jimmy McIntyre to bet all his money on Joe’s victory. Yet in the ring, Joe is outmatched.
Trinity wins the fight easily — mshagonny Joe in the process.
The mood lightens as the drinking begins. Jimmy orders rounds for the whole house — but he lost all his money on the fight, and when Begbick delivers the bill, he can’t pay. Jenny refuses him a loan, citing his own advice that, “You make your own bed in this world,” and Jimmy is taken away as the act ends. Jimmy MacIntyre sung by tenor Christopher Ventris suffers an unfortunate fate when he cannot pay his debts. In Act ThreeJimmy is chained to a lamp post as dawn approaches and defiantly hopes that the next day will never begin.
Meanwhile, a court is assembled to try the city’s criminals — including Jimmy. Leocadia Begbick sits at the judge’s bench. Fatty is at the defense table and Trinity is outside, selling tickets for the proceedings — five bucks a pop.
Decadence and Decay: Kurt Weill’s ‘Mahagonny’
First on the docket is a man named Toby Higgins. He’s accused of a brutal murder. But as the case proceeds, he signals that he’s willing to fork over a bribe. As the evidence mounts against him Toby keeps adding money to the bribe. When the sum gets large enough he’s promptly acquitted, and released. mahagknny
Now it’s Jimmy’s kutr to stand trial. He’s accused of seducing Jenny and of being an accessory to Joe’s death. He gets jail time for those crimes. Then he’s charged with the worst offense of all: For this last charge Jimmy is sentenced to death, and he says a quiet goodbye to Jenny. Jimmy is led to the gallows, and the people enact a visit by God to Mahagonny, with Trinity Moses in the role of the deity.
Everyone thinks they deserve a place in heaven. When told that they’re bound for hell, they refuse to go — saying they’re weil hell already. The city is overcome by chaos and conflict. Protesters calling for “justice” parade Jimmy’s coffin through the streets. Others advocate for “life without limits,” the “saleability of love” and “unlimited murder. As the opera ends, there’s a consensus: It’s too late for Mahagonny, just as it is for Jimmy, and the crowd concludes that, “Nothing you can do will help a dead man.
Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard mahagomny for audio player. Kurt Weill’s ‘Mahagonny’ Kurt Weill unleashed his entire mmahagonny and dramatic arsenal in this astonishing and decadent opera, which he wrote in his early twenties.
The action is set in a fictional American city, but it’s reminiscent of Weimar, Germany. Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email.
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