Modern Mahagonny Rises And Falls In Buenos Aires


Weill, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny: Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra / David Syrus (conductor), Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 29.8.2017. (JSJ)

Latin America’s co-production of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the Teatro Colón. (Photo Arnaldo Colombaroli)

Latin America’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at the Teatro Colón
(c) Arnaldo Colombaroli

Leokadja Begbick – Iris Vermillion
Jenny – Nicola Beller-Carbone
Jim Mahoney – Nikolai Schukoff
Fatty – Pedro Espinosa
Moses – Hernán Iturralde
Jack – Gonzalo Araya
Bill – Luciano Garay
Joe – Iván Garcí­a

Direction – Marcelo Lombardero
Sets – Diego Siliano
Costumes – Luciana Gutman
Lighting – José Luis Fiorruccio
Chorus – Miguel Martí­nez
Choreography – Ignacio González Cano

Kurt Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny – or as it is perhaps better known in its English form, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny – was first presented at the Teatro Colón in 1987. This new production, according to the programme, is in homage to the 30th anniversary of that event, which was also the Argentine premiere of the work.

The work, to a libretto by Bertolt Brecht, is classified as a political satire, but ultimately can be seen as a tale of excess involving money, alcohol and sex, which as these inevitably do, ends in tragedy.

This new production by Marcelo Lombardero – a co-production with the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, where it was presented last year, and the Teatro Mayor in Bogotá – updates the work to a period close to the present when smoking still appears to be de rigeur but before the mobiecame ubiquitous.

The work starts with a projection of a vehicle (viewing from the interior) speeding along a curved road at night-time – and then the curtain opens to see a car smashed up against a tree, its front wheels still spinning and a cloud of smoke rising as the occupants emerge dazed in the aftermath of the accident.

Shocking in its reality, it sets the scene for a no holds barred, sexually charged offering, that, with a stage extension between the orchestra and audience, draws one into the drama.

An outstanding cast was another factor with a no nonsense ‘Madam’, aka Leokadja Begbick from Iris Vermillion, a noted Straussian in recent local productions, a seductive and colourful Jenny from Nicola Beller-Carbone, whose moves even included a Sharon Stone/’Basin Instinct’ moment for Jimmy, ebulliently played by Austrian tenor Nikolai Schukoff.

The respective henchmen/sidekicks – Fatty and Moses of Begbick and Bill, Jack and Joe of Jimmy – were all convincing and especially memorable were Hernán Iturralde’s (Moses) despatch of Jimmy and Gonzalo Araya’s (Jack) demise gorging on a plate of spaghetti.

Good work too from the chorus and especially the women of Mahagonny.

And holding it all together on the podium, David Syrus brought a tension and edge that matched the drama.

In many cases the ‘modern’ and ‘in your face’ of this day and age appears to be more about making a statement than adding artistic value but here it works well in a work that is as valid now as when it was written, if not more so given the excesses of modern society.

Jonathan Spencer Jones

Print Friendly


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! Violinist Liza Ferschtman Celebrates Bernstein’s Centenary in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Piccadilly Chamber Music Series in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! I Musicanti’s Alexandra and the Russians at St Johns Smith Square in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House Announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • UPDATED! SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS CHOOSE THEIR ‘BEST OF 2017’ __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Russian Ballet Icons Gala at the London Coliseum on 25 February __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H