Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Weil – Opernhaus Zürich

November 17, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Opernhaus Zurich
Falkenstrasse 1
8008 Zürich

Kurt Weill (1900-1950), Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
Opera in three acts

Anyone who does not enjoy himself in Mahagonny has only himself to blame. For in the paradise city constructed in the opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, everything is permitted. Boundless pleasures, intoxication to excess. Gorging, boxing, boozing, love-making – anything goes. Only one thing is strictly forbidden: being unable to pay at the end. This is the experience of the pleasure seeker Paul Ackermann, who ends up on the electric chair. Brecht/Weill’s Mahagonnyopera is a series of large-scale images from the workshops of epic musical theatre: anarchical protest and caustic social criticism. Kurt Weill’s apparently simple but always ambiguous music gains a zany momentum as it dances above the abyss, ranging from the tone of high opera to adaptations of shimmy and foxtrot rhythms to choral pastiche. Brecht wrote that the opera was culinary, but that it also put the culinary up for debate. It attacks a society that needs such operas. It is both an opera and an anti-opera, and ends with the demise of the “you can” paradise: it chokes on itself. Mahagonny has lost none of its topicality since its 1930 première, which was one of the biggest scandals in operatic history. Today, the laws of human happiness that Paul Ackermann discovers at a moment of great crisis can be read as a paean to 21st-century turbo-capitalism: “Take the money – you can!”

Our new production will be staged by the experienced Brecht director Sebastian Baumgarten, who achieved great artistic success at Zurich Opera House two years ago with Wolfgang Rihm’s Hamletmaschine. Could the flamboyant character part of Widow Begbick be more attractively cast as the star soprano Karita Mattila? The Finnish grande dame will be singing for the first time in an opera production at Zurich Opera House, débuting in the role of the determined founder of the city and bawd. The wonderful German soprano Annette Dasch will be giving her role début as the whore Jenny. Fabio Luisi will conduct this work, which he specifically requested.


Conductor Fabio Luisi
Producer Sebastian Baumgarten
Stage design Barbara Ehnes
Costumes Joki Tewes
Jana Findeklee
Lighting Elfried Roller
Video-Mitarbeit Chris Kondek
Choreographische Mitarbeit Kinsun Chan
Chorus master Janko Kastelic
Dramaturgy Claus Spahn
Orchestra Philharmonia Zürich
Choir Chor der Oper Zürich


Leokadja Begbick Karita Mattila
Willy, der Prokurist Michael Laurenz
Dreieinigkeitsmoses Christopher Purves
Jenny Hill Annette Dasch
Paul Ackermann Christopher Ventris
Jakob Schmidt Iain Milne
Heinrich, genannt Sparbüchsenbill Cheyne Davidson
Josef, genannt Alaskawolfjoe Ruben Drole
Tobby Higgins Jonathan Abernethy
Tänzer Laura Burgener
Juliette Rahon
Malou Meyenhofer
Rahel Merz
Benjamin Mathis
Evelyn Angela Gugolz
Steven Forster
Michal Czyz
Mathis Wagenbach
Yvonne Barthel