"MAHAGONNY" Will Survive This Poor Recording!
MOVIE MAVEN | New York, NY USA | 07/02/1999
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Although I'd never call myself an expert, I do own and prize the Sony recording of this opera with Lotte Lenya in the role of "Jenny" besides many cd's with excerpts and I have seen several performances in New York starring, among others, Teresa Stratas. This 1988 Capriccio digital recording should have much better sound than the Sony which was made in the mid-1950's. It certainly does NOT have better sound and that is far from the worst thing about it: I am told that Anja Silja ("Jenny") had a major career as an opera singer/actress. On this recording she is, most of the time, screeching and seemingly searching for the correct notes. She slides, dips, scoops and her vibrato is more like the tremors of an earthquake. Wolfgang Neumann fares better as "Jimmy" but in his major Act 2 area, his final note sounds as if he were being strangled in the studio. Alot of the music is played so excruciatingly slowly that it seems stretched out to the point that it is merely mushy. Certainly, there is no drama here with so many of the performers, inc. Silja, trying to sound "pretty" and failing. Anny Schlemm does best in the character role of "Leocadia Begbick" but even she is done in by the tempi and lackluster dynamics. If you want to hear this incredible piece of music-theatre, buy the Sony recording."
Grand musical experience
Toon (1971) | Netherlands | 06/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vastly underrated, this is a stunning version of the Mahagonny classic. Sweeping, moving, unforgettable.
Purists may prefer Lotte Lenya's version, but for a new generation of Mahagonny listeners this may very well be their ultimate version. Not to be missed, this version rocks! Judge for yourself."
A Rich and Satisfying Recording
Theseus | US of A | 03/01/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a superb recording. A rich, wry, and appropriately depressing piece of work. The sound quality is excellent. There's a spare simplicity to the performances. They aren't just singing the music, they're performing a piece of music-theatre.
I can't comment on the tempi because I'm only just becoming a Weil-ophile. However, I know a thing or two about Brecht and this performance has the restraint, intelligence, balls, and humor that seems very much in keeping with the early-career Bertold Brecht.
Briefly, Mahagonny is a sort of companion-piece to Three Penny Opera. Instead of spinning out a fantastical vision of England, in this work Brecht and Weill imagine the construction of a Western boomtown designed to cater to the needs of greedy prospectors in the American west. There's little romance to be had here. This is a piece of theatre that attempts to expose capitalism as a craven thing that creates a city built on whores, booze, and money. Gee, could this be commentary on Germany in the 1920's? One of the many delights is how fancifully the authors incorporate bits and pieces of Americana -- for example, wonderfully incongruous references to hurricanes and the "moon of Alabamy" in a town somewhere south of the Alaska gold mines. In my view, this is one of the most inventive and rich works of art to come out of the 20th century.
(The booklet accompanying this set is particularly nice with the complete libretto: German and English side-by-side, a nice bit of prose that places the work in context, and period photos."