The Threepenny Opera

   In 1928 the new intendant of the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, Ernst-Josef Aufricht, chanced upon Elisabeth Hauptmann's translation of The Beggar's Opera. Originally writ-ten in 1728 by John Gay, the work had recently enjoyed a two-year run on the London stage. With support from Erich Engel,* Aufricht convinced Bertolt Brecht* and Kurt Weill* to reconstruct Hauptmann s draft as a musical play. In under six months Brecht and Weill wrote Die Dreigroschenoper and staged its first performance on 31 August 1928 with Weill's wife Lotte Lenya in the cast.
   Arriving on the Berlin* stage when middle-class audiences were acceptant of sociopolitical satire, The Threepenny Opera ran for about a year. It was sub-sequently staged throughout the world and remains Germany s most successful theatrical work of the twentieth century. Advancing Brecht's formula of "meat first, morality after," the play sets its action among thieves and beggars in London s underworld. The authors envisaged the plot, which revolves around the philanderings of the criminal Macheath, as ideal for maligning romantic opera, in which the audience s entertainment comes from identifying with the shallow emotions of the stage characters.
   The Threepenny Opera, filmed in 1931 by G. W. Pabst,* is esteemed as the prime example of Weimar "political theater." Yet, when it appeared in 1928, it was critiqued as "bourgeois flippancy" in the KPD's Rote Fahne. Apparently, Brecht only rendered the play s deeper meaning in retrospect. Perhaps more radical than its content was the play s relationship to form and structure. Com-bining cabaret* songs, the use of projections, modern dance rhythms (e.g., tango), operatic standards, and a dance band in place of an orchestra, the authors achieved something that was avant-garde, instructive, fun, and compelling, all at the same time.
   REFERENCES:Masterworks ofthe German Cinema; Willett, Theatre ofthe Weimar Re-public.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Threepenny Opera — For the 1931 film, see The Threepenny Opera (1931 film). For the 1990 film, see Mack the Knife (film). The Threepenny Opera Original German poster from Berlin, 1928. Music Kurt Weill …   Wikipedia

  • The Threepenny Opera (1931 film) — The Threepenny Opera Directed by G. W. Pabst Produced by Seymour Nebenzal …   Wikipedia

  • Threepenny Opera — Threepenny Op|e|ra, The (1928) an ↑opera with music by Kurt Weill and words by Bertolt Brecht, based on The Beggar s Opera (1728) by John ↑Gay …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Down in the Valley (opera) — This article is about the opera. For other uses, see Down in the Valley (disambiguation). Down in the Valley is a folk opera in one act by composer Kurt Weill and librettist Arnold Sundgaard, initially composed and conceived for the radio in 1945 …   Wikipedia

  • Japan's Threepenny Opera — (1959) is a novel by Takeshi Kaiko.The name was derived from Bertold Brecht s Threepenny Opera and in a way is its variant, in the Japanese setting.The novel is based on actual events. It is set in post World War II Japan. In the middle of Kyoto… …   Wikipedia

  • The Beggar's Opera — is a ballad opera in three acts written in 1728 by John Gay. It is one of the watershed plays in Augustan drama and is the only example of the once thriving genre of satirical ballad opera to remain popular today. Ballad operas were satiric… …   Wikipedia

  • Opera in German — is the opera of the German speaking countries, most notably Germany (or the historic states which now form the Federal Republic of Germany) and Austria. This article focuses on opera in the German language, with brief mentions of German or… …   Wikipedia

  • The opera corpus — is a list of nearly 2,500 works by more than 775 individual opera composers. Some of the works listed below are still being performed today   but many are not. The principal works of the major composers are given as well as those of historical… …   Wikipedia

  • The Flight across the Ocean — (Der Ozeanflug) is a Lehrstück by the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, inspired by We, Charles Lindbergh s 1927 account of his transatlantic flight. Written for the Baden Baden Music Festival, it was originally entitled Lindbergh s Flight (Der… …   Wikipedia

  • (the) Beggar's Opera — The Beggar’s Opera [The Beggars Opera] an opera (1728) by John Gay, in which the songs are set to the popular tunes of the time. The main character is Macheath, a ↑highwayman (= a person who robs travellers), and many of the other characters are… …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.