'Mahagonny' at the Israel Opera 311.
(photo credit: Yossi Zvekter)
The Israel Opera presents a new production of the Kurt Weill/Bertold Brecht
almost-anti-opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, directed by Omri
Nitzan and conducted by David Stern.Mahagonny
Calling it a theatrical parable,
Nitzan says of Mahagonny that “it’s a metaphor for [a] modern society that
worships a new god – the dollar; a raucous, consumerist society... addicted to
profit, devoid of humanity and compassion. These characteristics make this opera
is a mythical and lawless sanctuary
city established by three fugitive criminals somewhere in the American “Wild
West,” a city where anything goes – for a price. Money is God.
people flock there in droves, including four naïve lumberjacks who’ve made a
pile from the Alaskan gold-fields.
But prices become too high and
dissatisfaction soon takes over.
To make matters worse, an impending
hurricane has everybody in a panic. When the hurricane hits another city, the
“anything goes” philosophy seems to be justified.
Then when one of the
lumberjacks – Jim Mahoney (tenors John Uhlenhopp and Wolfgang Schwaninger) –
can’t pay his bar-bill – he’s tried by a kangaroo court and condemned to death
for the cardinal sin of insolvency. With his death, Mahagonny falls apart too,
and the city ends amid chaos.Mahagonny
satirizes the ornate forms of
traditional opera, but Brecht was a committed communist and the opera, which
premiered in 1930, also satirizes the evils of capitalism in which – as he saw
it, everything, including love, becomes a commodity.
the Israel Opera in Tel Aviv on January 1, 2012.