6-27 Sep 2023


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage

Running time

2:50, incl. 1 interval



Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

Mahagonny: from consumer paradise to hell on earth (16+)

A place where anything goes – as long as you pay. That is the new city of Mahagonny, founded by three criminals on the run. Together, they fleece its new citizens by making them pay through the nose for a real consumer paradise. But this world of cravings, sex and alcohol soon turns into a veritable hell.

Age recommendation: 16+

Photo: Marta Syrko

From consumer paradise to hell on earth

Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, with its story of people driven by crisis to search for better alternatives, seems more relevant than ever in a time of high inflation and democracies under pressure. With his libretto, the dramatist Bertolt Brecht did what he was good at: producing socially relevant theatre that criticised the capitalist consumer society of the 1930s. With Kurt Weill’s sparkling music, which combines a classical style of composition with jazzy tunes (as his famous 'Alabama Song'), and Brecht’s pioneering theatrical techniques, the renowned duo broke new ground in the opera genre.

Masterpiece by Brecht and Weill

After his riveting Salome, leading stage director Ivo van Hove returns to Dutch National Opera with this masterpiece by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Using techniques from the world of film such as green screens and live camera images, he has turned this famous opera about the deceptive city of gold into a highly topical story, one that leaves a lasting impression. With celebrated soprano Evelyn Herlitzius making her debut in the role of fraudster Leokadja Begbick, rising star Lauren Michelle as the prostitute Jenny and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra led by conductor Markus Stenz, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny is set to be an impressive opener to the season.

Performance information

Opera in three acts

Sung in German

Libretto  Bertolt Brecht

Musical direction  Markus Stenz

Stage direction  Ivo van Hove

Set and lighting design  Jan Versweyveld

Costume design  An D’Huys

Video  Tal Yarden

Dramaturgy  Koen Tachelet

Leokadja Begbick  Evelyn Herlitzius

Fatty  Alan Oke

Dreieinigkeitsmoses  Thomas Johannes Mayer

Jenny Hill  Lauren Michelle

Jim Mahoney  Nikolai Schukoff

Jack O’Brien/Tobby Higgins  Iain Milne

Bill  Martin Mkhize

Joe  Mark Kurmanbayev*

Sechs Mädchen von Mahagonny 

Viola Cheung, Thembinkosi Magagula, Elisa Soster,

Raphaële Green, Kadi Jürgens, Jessica Stakenburg

* Dutch National Opera Studio

Chorus of Dutch National Opera

Chorus master  Ad Broeksteeg

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

Coproduction  with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, The Metropolitan Opera, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg

Green Screen
Scenes from Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny - DNO - Amsterdam | Photo's: Clärchen & Matthias Baus
Green Screen
Protest met fakkels
Repeterend beeld
Close-up op de achtergrond
Strijdende inwoners

Online programme

Along with the printed programme book, we also offer online programme information for this performance. The online programme will take you behind the scenes with in-depth stories, articles, and interviews with the creators and cast.

Trailer Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

Trailer Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

Ivo van Hove on Mahagonny (Video: Opera Ballet Vlaanderen)

Regisseur Ivo van Hove


An introductory podcast about the opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht). Dramaturg Wout van Tongeren talks to director Ivo van Hove and conductor Markus Stenz.


The opera 'Mahagonny' is so strong that you wonder: why is this not standard repertoire? (...) 

8 September

Ivo van Hove makes you feel the intensity of suffering and living in opera 'Mahagonny' (...) Jimmy's death, devoid of sentimentality, is breathtaking. In that paradox lies the power of the performance.

8 September

Van Hove and his team succeeded well in bringing the at times utterly absurd spectacle across the stage.

7 September

 (Antwerp, September 2022) Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny is a clever satire on greedy capitalism ... Director Ivo van Hove sets the contrast well between Kurt Weill's upbeat music and Bertolt Brecht's raw libretto.

11 September

(Antwerp, September 2022) Rise and fall artistically successful ... The musical and vocal level of the performance, the realistic design and concept and its elaboration in the direction make this complex work an opera performance of artistic integrity, in which none of Weill's politically and socially engaged messages are lost.

21 September

(Antwerp, September 2022) Ivo Van Hove gives the opera 'Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny' a powerful mix of alienation and subjectivity ... For Ivo van Hove, Mahagonny is not a show but a statement.

16 September

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra have been the main orchestral partners of Dutch National Opera for over thirty years. They are regarded as among the best opera orchestras in the world. The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is the main regular stage for their concerts.

Photo: Melle Meivogel

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra

In addition to the programmes with chief conductor Lorenzo Viotti and Gordan Nicolić (musical leader of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra), the orchestras collaborate with both internationally acclaimed guest conductors and soloists and top-class musicians from the up-and-coming generation. The orchestras perform at numerous venues, bringing people together through their music and giving both classical music aficionados and new audiences the perfect musical experience. With their welcoming home base in the NedPhO Dome in Amsterdam’s Indische Buurt neighbourhood, the two orchestras are at  the heart of the community and aim to make classical music accessible to everyone who shows an interest.

In the 2023/2024 season, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing the operas Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Lohengrin, Il trittico and Oedipus Rex / Antigone.The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra can be heard in Die Zauberflöte and Roberto Devereux


Story (animation 2020)

The story of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

Partner Mahagonny

Brook Foundation

Partners Dutch National Opera Studio