The brutish and sinister world of Mack the Knife haunts 1920s Germany in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s production of “The Threepenny Opera.”
A joint production of the IUP departments of Theater and Dance and Music, “The Threepenny Opera” was performed Feb. 21–23 and Feb. 27 through March 1.
The classic musical, with music by Kurt Weill and a text by Bertolt Brecht, weaves the stories of murderous con artists, aggressive beggars, and ladies of the evening with a musical score that boasts the classic, “Mack the Knife.”
A milestone of Twentieth Century musical theater, “The Threepenny Opera” profoundly broke from the standard opera and operetta forms of its time, combining a barbed, political perspective with the sound of 1920s Berlin.
Macheath, a notorious bandit and womanizer, runs afoul of Jonathan Peachum when he marries Peachum’s daughter, Polly, in a ceremony of doubtful legality.
Described by American composer Virgil Thompson as “one of this century’s most powerful creations,” “The Threepenny Opera” premiered in 1928. Through the 1930s, the musical production was banned throughout Germany by the Nazi government, which stopped performing the music publicly because it was being enjoyed by too many people.
An English production premiered a new translation off-Broadway in 1954 with a now recognizable cast including Lotte Lenya, Bea Arthur, Charlotte Rae and John Astin. Since that time, “The Threepenny Opera” has been performed all over the world, including five major Broadway revivals, the latest performed in 2006 in the legendary Studio 54.
“The Threepenny Opera” is a joint production by the departments of Theater and Dance and Music and is funded, in part, by the Student Cooperative Association.