WEILL Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

Zadek’s 1998 Mahagonny on the large Salzburg stage

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Kurt (Julian) Weill

Genre:

Opera

Label: Arthaus Musik

Media Format: Digital Versatile Disc

Mastering:

Stereo
DDD

Catalogue Number: 100 093

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, 'Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny' Kurt (Julian) Weill Composer
Robert Wörle
Robert Wörle
Willy Hartmann
Jerry Hadley
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Robert Wörle
Catherine Malfitano
Dennis Russell Davies
Ashley Holland
Kurt Gysen
Robert Wörle
Robert Wörle
Andreas Hörl
Vienna State Opera Concert Choir
Robert Wörle
Manel Esteve Madrid
Without use of that word beginning with V that puts many non-Germans off (let’s call it ‘irony’ or ‘alienation’), Brecht’s stage works are holed beneath the waterline. Annett Renneberg, the personable young narrator here, delivers this to perfection – how we wince in anticipation of corruption as she announces drily that ‘the courts at Mahagonny are no worse than those anywhere else’. But she is the only one in this reissue of a 1998 Salzburg Festival production, directed with surprising lushness (Brecht might say ‘culinary-ness’) by the famed Anglo-German Peter Zadek and conducted in like manner by Dennis Russell Davies, to get anywhere near the mark.

Whether blowing her whistle for order or showing off naked whores for sale, Gwyneth Jones’s Leokadja Begbick remains a Marschallin or a Brünnhilde gently slumming it. Catherine Malfitano, toute sexy and décolletée, reworks her Tosca or Emilia Marty in much the same way. Both divas are 100 per cent committed but it just ain’t their show. Jerry Hadley, in a performance admired in these pages in 2001, makes Jimmy into a romantic tragic hero – 200 per cent committed, 2000 per cent wrong. The point of this piece is a send-up of heroic opera, allied to one of the most withering attacks on capitalism ever penned. That’s true even in Act 3, where Weill indulged his inner modern composer in distorted recalls of previous songs.

The playing-field dimensions of the Grosses Festspielhaus stage are no home to Brechtian epic theatre, even with Richard Peduzzi recycling his 18th-century Ring and Marivaux architecture into Hollywood-like studio streets. Brian Large’s cameras keep us closer than the real spectators could have got and the sound engineering is likewise unrealistically good. We await an even halfway decent Mahagonny on official film; the Met’s recently reissued Levine/Dexter production (Kultur) has, at least, Teresa Stratas’s Jenny.

Gramophone Print

  • Print Edition

From £67/year

Subscribe

The Gramophone Digital Club

  • Digital Edition
  • Digital Archive
  • Reviews Database
  • Events & Offers

From £90/year

Subscribe

Gramophone Reviews

  • Reviews Database

From £67/year

Subscribe

Gramophone Digital Edition

  • Digital Edition
  • Digital Archive

From £67/year

Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.