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Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Modern Classics) Paperback – 20 Sep 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury 3PL (20 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071368674X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713686746
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 712,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"At last--the definitive translations of one of the 20th century's most influential playwrights...Far superior to the competition."--"Theatre Journal"

About the Author

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) is acknowledged as one of the great dramatists whose plays, work with the Berliner Ensemble and writing have had a considerable influence on the theatre. His landmark plays include The Threepenny Opera and such masterpieces as The Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Steve Giles is Professor of German Studies and Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really vaulable book that does its homework on Brecht effectively, and gives useful chapter and verse on contemporaneous politics.
The translation is up to date and serviceable (there are 5 or 6 others to choose from).The one limitation is that it hasn't pursued the story from the side of Kurt Weill: the editor Steven Giles really should do this - it woud make quite a difference - and put out a second edition.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The coming streaming of the ROH production of Mahagonny in English makes this book a very good buy. I've always found Mahagonny fascinating but baffling, and it seemed worth making an effort to understand it now that we can see it performed. I think this book is a great help. I still don't really understand it, but I'm closer than I was and perhaps when I've seen it things will be clearer. But I doubt it!
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By Peter Boyce on 13 April 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an excellent preparation before seeing the opera at the local cinema from the Royal Opera House.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An overlooked gem 6 April 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I must admit I am a Brecht fan boy. "The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny" was on my to read list for a long time. However, I was having trouble finding it. So when I saw it a used bookstore I snapped it up and read it immediatly. I was not disapointed. "The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny" revists many of the themes Brecht first explored in "The Three Penny Opera". He explores the relationship between morality and poverty in our consumer focused capitalist society. Although written some half century ago it is still relevant today. I don't want to make it sound like a polemic. The plot, charachters and absurd yet real situations draw us in. While less known that "Mother Courages" and "The Three Penny Opera" -- likely because it sacrifices entertainment for clear and bitting politics -- "The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny" deserves just as much respect.
Good! But watching it on stage is essential 5 Jun. 2015
By Guilherme Bahia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a satire of capitalist societies, it's not subtle at all. But still it struck me as amusing and clever, even though I am far from sharing Brecht’s Marxist views, which he apparently already held, though somewhat unconsciously, when he wrote the text.

Mahagonny is a city in the United States run by gangsters. All that matters there is money. Life evolves around spending it for worldly pleasures or receiving it for all kinds of services. As we might expect from such a place, everything is for sale, including love and the authorities. If we think of the epoch it was written – the late twenties, when Al Capone was at his peak – Brecht’s critique may perhaps be taken a good deal seriously.

The play cannot be fully appreciated only by reading the text. As with all plays, the actors’ performances and the director’s hand matter a lot. I watched a Royal Opera House’s version in 2015 (unfortunately not alive, but at a Cinemark in my city). In this version, we see Brecht’s "distancing effect" vividly present in several scenes, like one in which the prostitute Jenny sings a romantic song while the very actress who is singing changes clothes and makeup, with all the attention focused on her, of course. This is typical Brecht. It makes impossible for the audience to forget reality and dive into the story, as is a major goal of most fictional works. Instead, the spectator is forced to retain a critical perspective by being constantly reminded that those on the stage are only actors.

But in the case of an opera (or would it be a satire of an opera?) there is also the music, and here the partnership between Brecht and the composer Kurt Weill worked fantastically. It was their intention to achieve a sharp contrast between the feeling conveyed by the melodies and the ideas conveyed by the lyrics, so sharp as to produce a comic effect. This is particularly noticeable when the people of Mahagonny sing a lofty song, one that sounds really fit for praising human glories, but with these words, wicked to the point of being ridiculous: “So get kicked in the face if you want to / As for me, I will much rather kick” (if you want to listen, search for the teaser from Royal Opera House on Youtube. It contains part of the song).
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