Over the last thirty years, any number of well-known directors have had a go at the opera where everything goes, Weill and Brecht’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. Now it’s Ivo van Hove’s turn, in his first collaboration with conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. Van Hove’s resumé stretches back decades as director and writer; he has worked in major houses and theaters all over Europe, not to mention credits on Broadway. This will be his first Aufstieg. Salonen, Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is gearing up for a season with plenty of Weill; in addition to Aufstieg (a first for him as well), he’s conducting Die sieben Todsünden in Los Angeles and the Violin Concerto twice, in Los Angeles and London. Weill fans everywhere are eager to see and hear what two world-renowned artists do with an opera known for its challenges.
They’ll be working with an experienced cast, with the lead roles filled by singers who have taken them before. The couple at the center of the opera, Jenny and Jimmy, will be sung by Annette Dasch (Zürich, 2017) and Nikolai Schukoff (Santiago, 2016), respectively. Karita Mattila (Zürich) returns as Begbick. Sir Willard White picks up where he left off at the Royal Opera House (2015, also Madrid in 2010) as Trinity Moses. Sean Panikkar will make his role debut as Jack, but he is no stranger to Weill, having appeared as the Leader in Lost in the Stars (Glimmerglass, Washington National Opera).
The performances in Aix are only the beginning. The production will land next at Dutch National Opera in March 2020 (where rising star and Lenya Competition top prizewinner Lauren Michelle will play Jenny), with later stops elsewhere. Co-producers include Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, and the Metropolitan Opera.
Commentary on the new production by Timothée Picard
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