Earlier Brecht and Weillwe finished watching the opera ‘The Rise and Fall of Mahagonny’ on DVD. The performance (Salzburger Festival of 1998) on this DVD was recorded for a TV production and was originally distributed by ORF. The DVD (courtesy of Alfons, our thanks) is long but worth the watching, particularly if you’re familiar with the works of Weill and Brecht. It’s definitely not for the romantically inclined, so to say: this 1930 opera was meant to shock its audience: the opera’s jazz and blues influences, the social critiques and the political satire painted such a haunting picture of modern society, that it was soon banned by the Nazis.

I’ve Denn wenn manseen this performance before: if I’m not wrong it was broadcast on national television during (or around) the Weill centenary (2000). My favourite part is between the second and third chapter, when a hurricane threatens the very existence of the city and in all the despair, Mahony (the protagonist) ridicules the citizens of Mahagonny. It’s here where the opera’s leitmotiv is introduced (the “As you make your bed” song), it’s here where classical music suddenly transposes into a bitter-sweet blues-like song. I find it weird to find out that in our modern age those kind of musical changes don’t surprise anymore. In the early 30s, it surely rattled the Nazis in the audience.

1. Related: Brecht’s ‘Epic Theater’
2. 40 second sample of leitmotiv (700KB) (sample removed).

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