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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny (2007)

When three fugitives on the run from the law find themselves stranded in a desolate area, their leader (Patti LuPone) suggests building a city devoted to vice and pleasure on the site. The word gets out and the new city attracts many including a prostitute (Audra McDonald) and an Alaskan lumberjack (Anthony Dean Griffey) but the city doesn't deliver what it promises. After the town survives a hurricane threat, it thrives but only because of corruption. This anti-capitalist 1930 opera with libretto and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill is a very theatrical piece and this Los Angeles City Opera production was tepidly received (though a recording of it won two Grammys) and it's flaws are only embellished on film. It's a stripped down production with nil production values so the weight of the show falls on the shoulders of its performers though they seem strait jacketed by Gary Halvorson's inflexible direction. On the stage, a superb singing voice may be sufficient to overcome a lack of presence but poor Griffey suffers the most by the camera's eye. Overweight, pasty faced and sweating, he hardly conjures up the image of a lumberjack. Where's Nathan Gunn when you need him? With Donnie Ray Albert, Robert Worle and Mel Ulrich.

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