May 18

Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, by Kurt Weill from text of Bertoldt Brecht, performed at Salzburg Festival 1998 ?

Known in English as “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny”, this opera by Kurt Weill rates among the worst of the Euro-trash operas. Though Weill has had occasional lapses of reasonable music that he has written, his ideologic drive for communism has clouded his thinking and produced a piece of trash that would not survive the kindest of the Soviet years. To be fair to this opera, I will critique separately 1) the musical performance, 2) the stage performance, and 3) the opera itself. First, the musical performance was not too badly performed. The only problem is that there was little the was overtly demanding, including no demands on the singer, save to sing weird, no lengthy segments, no  music that could even be thought of as likable. The stage performance represented a complete lapse of ingenuity. Isn’t one tired of the suitcase on stage carried by a Zoot-suited individual, as is now seen in just about every European opera production? I could wax eloquent about how virtually every scene lacks in creative imagination. The minimalist staging suggested that the producer really didn’t care enough for the opera to put much into it. And, that is quite understandable, because it was not an opera to enjoy or appreciate as a work of art. Brecht (via Weill) at the end of the opera spewed out a vindictive against capitalism, the stage designers and Brecht not-so-subtly implying that the greatest sinners of their communistic ideology are the Americans. A leading character named Jimmy is sentenced to death for a lack of money. I presume that Weill was attempting to make some sort of profound statement against greed and monetary avarice, but he fails dismally. Any thinking person finds the philosophical statements of this opera to be poorly developed non-sequitors with a forced conclusion, believed only by Brecht and Weill, and perhaps a few of the performers and audience. Such go the warm and fuzzy statements of the new art, promoting the warm and fuzzy sentiments of the new philosophy and the new politic. It’s one thing to have wasted one’s money on this opera, but even a worse crime to have wasted one’s time watching it.

Add comments

Leave a Reply

*

preload preload preload