20 October 2010: For his first new production as artistic director of Madrid's Teatro Real, Gérard Mortier selected Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Directed by Alex Ollé and Carlus Padrissa of the cutting-edge Catalan theater company, La Fura dels Baus, and conducted by the young Spanish star Pablo Heras-Casado, Mahagonny opened to critical acclaim on September 30. See what critics are saying:
"There was not anger or even polemic. The much-feared new production by Gérard Mortier in the Teatro Real of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny resulted in a success on several levels: vocal, orchestral, choral, theatrical, dramatic. This opera is above all an assemblage of different artistic disciplines. In this production they came together like clockwork, and this time it was Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht who benefited the most."
--El País, J. Á. Vela Del Campo
"With Mahagonny, the first production for which he alone is responsible, Gérard Mortier begins his reign at Madrid's Teatro Real; and judging by the measure of this premiere production, his beginning can already be called a success."
--Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Paul Ingendaay
In a new venture similar to the Met's popular "Live in HD" broadcasts, Teatro Real transmitted a high-definition simulcast of the opening night performance to more than 120 theaters worldwide. Radio broadcasts are planned over the next few months, including NPR's "World of Opera," and a DVD release is expected.
The Teatro Real Mahagonny was performed in English, using Michael Feingold's translation from the original German. The cast featured Jane Henschel (Leocadia Begbick), Sir Willard White (Trinity Moses), Measha Brueggergosman (Jenny), and Michael König (Jim MacIntyre). In some performances, Jenny was performed by Elzbieta Szmytka, and Jim by Christopher Ventris.
In Mahagonny, Weill and Brecht created a mythical sin city where money rules, lust runs rampant, and the pursuit of pleasure is paramount. Weill's score crosses over from opera to cabaret to Broadway, incorporating elements of jazz and boisterous music hall numbers. Brecht's libretto is a scathing satire on greedy capitalism and conventional morality. The work's premiere in Leipzig in 1930 enraged the Nazis, who banned the opera when they assumed power.
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny ran at Teatro Real from September 30 through October 17, and will travel to the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in September 2011.