The Threepenny Opera (Or Dreigroschenoper)
In March of 1928 a young actor named Ernst-Josef Aufricht
was given 100,000 marks by his father.
He used the money to rent the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm
and booked Erich Engel who was workin
on Brecht's Man equals Man
at the time.
After planning for an opening production on August 31, the only thing lacking was the actual play.
He soon brought in a man named Heinrich Fischer to act as his deputy. After tapping many of
's best known playwrights (including Kraus
and others), Fischer happened
to run into Brecht in a cafe. Brecht mentioned his interest in John Gay
's The Beggar's Opera
a translation of which one of his mistresses (Elizabeth Hauptmann
) was in the process of making.
The fact that a revival of this play had been successful in London about six years earlier caused
Fischer to allow Brecht to run with the idea.
Brecht took over the script and brought in Kurt Weill
to write the modern melodies. Aufricht, worried
about his investment, went to listen to two of Weill's operas and was appalled by their atonality
He ordered his musical director find the origal songs in case Weill's work would not be performable.
In May the entire team, including Brecht, Hauptmann, Weill and Engel, were sent to Le Lavandou in the south
of France to finish the work. While in France
and later on the Ammersee
Brecht added several new
scenes, such as the stable wedding, which does not occur in The Beggar's Opera
. He also added
his own songs, four of which he stole from a German version of Villon. In spite of the additions
the rehearsals started in August with much of the original script intact, including songs
and Rudyard Kipling
(these later disappeared).
The play immediately encountered difficulties of an almost comical nature. The lead, Carola Neher
was two weeks late from her husband's funeral and gave up the part. Roma Bahn
recruited and had to learn the role in four days.
(famous for her later portrayel of Mother Courage in Mother Courage and Her Children
came down with appendicitis
and had her part cut (she was supposed to play Mrs. Coaxer the brothel
Madame). Then the actress playing Mrs. Peachum
, Rosa Valetti
, objected to the Song of Sexual
and forced that to be cut as well. Other mishaps included the actress playing
Lucy being unable to manage her solo (causing it to be cut), Lotte Lenya
's name being left off
the program, and the play being 45 minutes too long. After massive cutting, having Brecht write
the finale during the rehearsals, and hastily adding the now famous song Ballad of Mac the Knife
was meant for the actor playing Mack the Knife
(Paulsen). After an incident about Paulsen's tie,
Weill and Brecht gave the song to Kurt Gerron
, who also played the role of Tiger Brown
Die Moritat von Mackie Messer - Mack The Knife
Der Morgenchoral des Peachum
Das Hochzeitslied ärmerer Leute
Der Kanonen-Song - The Cannon Song
Die Liebe dauert oder dauert nicht (Das Liebeslied)
Uber die Unsicherheit menschlicher Verhältnisse
(1. Dreigroschen- Finale)
Hübsch als es währte (Polly's Lied)
Die Ballade vom angenehmen Leben
Denn wovon lebt der Mensch? (2. Dreigroschen-Finale)
Das Lied von der Unzulänglichkeit menschlichen Strebens
Ruf aus der Gruft