Mon 30 Jan 2012
I know that the program of the opera season must be established years in advance, so it must be a happy coincidence to see ‘The Rise and the Fall of the City of Mahagonny’ set in Tel Aviv at the New Israeli Opera in an original staging directed by Omri Nitzan, one of the best directors of classical theater in Israel, and also the author of several successful performances on the stage of the local opera. The subject of the libretto written by Bertoldt Brecht with its strong anti-Capitalist message sounds more than actual after the summer of the tents and of social discontent that crossed Europe and the whole world and did not spare Israel either.
Yes, the text is more actual than ever in 2011 and 2012, but for me it receives a double significance here in Israel, which it seems to me did not escape director Nitzan, as the motto about the city of Mahagonny existing because the evils of the world around applies up to a certain point to the country we live in. The merge of music, danse, theater and cabaret that is specific to the works of Brecht and Weil create the premises of modern and attractive show, and the staging in Tel Aviv was up to the expectations.
Israel is not the only opera house which found fit to stage Brecht and Weil’s work this year, here is a promo of the version which was broadcast by Mezzo – and also entered the contest of the best operas of 2011 in Europe – put on stage at the Royal Theatre in Madrid.
On the lighter side, here is a version of one of the best known songs in the opera – ‘Alabama Song’ sung by … David Bowie
Here are conductor David Stern and director Omri Nitzan talking about the work and the production. Director Nitzan added to the melting pot of arts that is ‘Mahagonny’ cinema and television, and this worked well and gave a dynamic and contemporary touch to the whole screening. The NIO version of the City of Mahagonny is a City of Sin that can blossom in any Capitalist desert. German singer Wolfgang Schwaninger and Swiss soprano Neomi Nedelman gave good performances in the principal roles, and David Stern directed the orchestra in a way that was both exact and fun. The side turn taken by the Israeli Opera relative aside from its classical repertoire was successful.