Live From the Los Angeles Opera, Kurt Weill And Bertolt Brecht’s, Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny

On December 18, Naxos of America releases the Los Angeles Opera’s recent production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny on EuroArts DVD (2056258). Filmed in high-definition, this performance was recorded live in February 2007 and airs on PBS’ Great Performances on Monday, December 17.

The production features a cast of operatic and musical theater luminaries, including the Los Angeles Opera debuts of Tony Award winners Audra McDonald (as Jenny) and Patti LuPone (as Leocadia Begbick). Critically acclaimed tenor Anthony Dean Griffey also makes his LA Opera debut in the role of Jimmy. The performance is conducted by LA Opera Music Director James Conlon and is directed by John Doyle, winner of the 2006 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for Sweeney Todd.

Patti LuPone won the 1980 Tony and Drama Desk awards for her portrayal of Eva Perón in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Evita. A seasoned stage and film performer, Ms. LuPone recently concluded a critically acclaimed run as Mrs. Lovett in John Doyle’s popular Broadway production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. She made her New York Philharmonic debut in the same role in a concert version of the musical before reprising her performance with the San Francisco Symphony, at the Ravinia Festival, and on a Great Performances telecast.

Audra McDonald has been a beloved staple of the American musical theater scene since making her Broadway debut in The Secret Garden shortly after graduating from Juilliard in 1993. Her career gained momentum as she earned Tony Awards in 1994, 1996, and 1998 for Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime, and again in 2004 for the revival of A Raisin in the Sun. She has performed with every major orchestra in the U.S. and has released four solo albums. A veteran television performer, Ms. McDonald will appear in the film adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun on ABC on February 25, 2008, the day after the Oscar telecast.

American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey has captured critical and popular acclaim on opera, concert, and recital stages worldwide. Highlights of his illustrious career include performances at The Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera Bastille, and other major houses. He has sung with major orchestras around the world and has collaborated with many of the most prestigious conductors.

The superb cast also includes Robert Wörle as Fatty the Bookkeeper; John Easterlin as Jack O’Brien, Mel Ulrich as Bank Account Bill, Donnie Ray Albert as Trinity Moses, Derek Taylor as Toby Higgins, and Steven Humes as Alaska Wolf Joe. The production features sets by Mark Bailey, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting by Thomas C. Hase, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier, and video direction by Gary Halvorson.

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, which premiered in Leipzig in 1930, is based on a short musical theater piece called the Mahagonny Songspiel. (If the heart of the Singspiel is its arias, the heart of this ‘Song’-spiel is its cycle of vernacular, thoroughly American tunes.) Weill set to music a collection of poems Brecht had composed about a fictional American city devoted to life’s most illicit pleasures: whiskey, women, horses, and poker. The opera bitterly satirizes the evils of the almighty dollar, recounted in a blend of operatic and music hall songs, including the classic “Moon of Alabama.”

EUROARTS is distributed in the United States and Canada by Naxos of America/Naxos of Canada.

2 Comments

  • Ron Johnson says:

    When this title was mentioned in the press back in October and November, some articles said “… will be released on high-definition DVD by EuroArts Music International on December 18.”

    Now it seems it’s only a regular DVD. Are there plans for a release on HD DVD and/or Blu-ray discs?

  • David says:

    Hi Ron, Thanks for your question. Rise and Fall of the City Mahagonny was filmed in high definition but is not an actual HD or Blu-Ray DVD. I’m afraid I’m not aware of any release at this time on either format. We apologize for the confusion!