Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (‘Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny’)
- Stephen Hinton
(‘Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny’)
Opera in three acts by Kurt Weill to a libretto by Bertolt Brecht; Leipzig, Neues Theater, 9 March 1930.
Weill’s correspondence with his publishers (Universal Edition) records how his collaboration with Brecht began in April 1927 with the idea of using the poet’s ‘Mahagonny-Gesänge’ (from the collection Hauspostille) as the basis for the Songspiel Mahagonny (see Mahagonny). Later, however, in his article ‘Zur Aufführung der Mahagonny-Oper’ (Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten, 8 March 1930), he describes the Songspiel as ‘a stylistic study by way of preparation for the operatic work, which was already begun and, the style having been tried out, was then continued’.
That the composer wished retrospectively to relegate the Songspiel to the status of a mere ‘Stilstudie’ is understandable. But why he should also claim, by backdating the genesis of the full-scale opera, that this was his intention all along remains unclear. He obviously wished to stress the importance of the latter work to his theatrical output, partly no doubt because of Brecht’s rather negative assessment, made public in his ‘Notes’, ‘Anmerkungen zur Oper ...