“Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” by Kurt WeillAt the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence

142 min
Available from 05/07/2020 to 09/09/2020

This opera is the fruit of one of Kurt Weill’s many collaborations with the playwright Bertolt Brecht. And this production by the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence marks another – new and eagerly anticipated – collaboration that brings together Belgian director Ivo van Hove and Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Mahagonny is a city of illusion, located in the middle of a desert and founded by crooks. This city of debauchery and decadence is “an allegory of life today”, according to Kurt Weill in 1930. It is also an allegory of capitalism and that of a “complex world, which evokes our society and its marginalised classes” as Ivo van Hove puts it today.

The opera was banned in Germany on its release in 1930. Brecht goes against the traditional forms of classical opera and in this work he experiments with epic theatre and proposes a non-linear narrative that shatters the theatrical illusion and forces the audience to abandon its passivity. Furthermore, Weill’s music for the piece is simply stunning, with its mix of jazz, cabaret and popular songs.

Ivo van Hove, who is famous for his political, socially-committed stage work, has chosen to set the action in a film studio and to use a video screen, which he believes is “essential to create the illusion” of the city of Mahagonny.


Performance filmed on 11 July 2019 at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.

Photo © Pascal Victor / artcompress

  • Director :
    • A Determiner
  • Composer :
    • Kurt Weill
  • Director :
    • Ivo Van Hove
  • Music director :
    • Esa-Pekka Salonen
  • Country :
    • France
  • Year :
    • 2019