NEW OPERA: Mahagonny by Brecht & Weill
As Australia’s first major stage production in over forty years, Melbourne Opera and IOpera will present a stunning reinterpretation of The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonnyat by Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann at The Athenaeum from May 1 .
Created in Leipzig in 1930, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is a politico-satirical opera banned in Germany after 1933 by the Third Reich. Regularly performed at major opera houses around the world (including recent revivals at Covent Garden and the Met), his critique of corruption in a world with increasingly fragile moral foundations makes it more relevant than ever.
This major new Australian production will premiere on May 1, with tickets on sale now via Ticketek, reservations and more information available via the Melbourne Opera website.
Director Suzanne Chaundy (Das Rheingold, The Flying Dutchman) tackles a full production of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle and is now tackling the groundbreaking work of Brecht, Hauptmann and Weill.
The production will see two-time Helpmann Award-winning James Egglestone as Jimmy, who enjoyed huge success as Lodge in Das Rheingold for Melbourne Opera, performing alongside his highly accomplished wife and brilliantly talented Antoinette Halloran as the provocative Jenny Smith. Antoinette recently gave a stellar performance in the lead role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.
As Fatty the Bookkeeper, tenor Robert Macfarlane had major performances lined up with Opera Australia and other companies when the COVID-19 lockdown hit. When all his contracts disappeared, Robert turned to work as an emergency nurse in a public hospital and wrote and performed songs for his band Nurserachted.
Chaundy’s past work as a theater manager saw her works directed by (and influenced by) Brecht and Hauptmann.
I am so happy to incorporate The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny into my operatic practice.
Brecht and Hauptmann were among the most revolutionary theater makers of the early 20th century, and the resonances of their stylistic conventions still play out in the nuances of most contemporary theater makers today.
Brecht and Hauptmann’s use of projected text, short, juxtaposed scenes and an anarchic sense of humor is fresher than ever…this production gives me the opportunity to showcase it.
Created by the same team that wrote The Threepenny Opera (“Mack the Knife”), the score draws inspiration from the grand opera, operetta and jazz-infused popular music of the roaring 20s and 30s. ne of Mahagonny’s most famous numbers is the “Alabama Song” (“show me the way to the next whiskey bar”) sung by Jenny (played here by Halloran), a historic role for opera singers and cross-over singers. look alike. This role has been performed by many amazing artists, from Lotte Lenya to Audra McDonald, and the song has been covered by David Bowie and The Doors.
Christopher Hillier (Zurga in The Pearl Fishers), Liane Keegan (Erda in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Opera Australia), Christopher Tonkin (Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Fraser Findlay (Jamie Wellerstein in The Last Five Years), Darcy Carroll (Richard Divall Emerging Artist), Alastair Cooper-Golec (Richard Divall Emerging Artist), as well as the brilliant Melbourne Opera Chorus under the direction of Chorus Master Raymond Lawrence (Macbeth).
The 40-piece cast and orchestra are led by Peter Tregear, a multi-award-winning conductor and singer who has staged several UK and Australian premieres of Weimar-era works, including the opera Machinist Hopkins by Max Brand at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. This Melbourne Opera and IOpera co-production offers a wonderful opportunity for audiences to experience a repertoire long absent from Victorian stages.
IOpera was founded in 2007 by Gert Reifarth and Peter Tregear to provide local audiences with the opportunity to encounter forgotten or overlooked operatic works and explore innovative forms of opera production. Staged works include the Australian premiere of Venjamin Fleischman’s one-act opera Rothschild’s Violin (1941) and Viktor Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis (1943). In 2019, IOpera presented a huge sell-out success at The Athenaeum of a semi-staged concert of another work from the Weimar period, Krenek’s Jonny spielt Auf (Jonny Strikes Up) (1926).
Melbourne Opera’s Greg Hocking:
Artistic collaboration has always been an integral part of the philosophy of Melbourne Opera. We are very happy to be involved in another IOpera project. Peter Tregear is a recognized expert in this repertoire and we love working with Suzanne Chaundy.
The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny Performed in English, using the Australian premiere of Jeremy Sams’ new translation for The Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
Location: The Athenaeum
Date: May 1, 3, 5, 2022
For more information click HERE