- Series: Penguin Classics
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics (December 18, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143105167
- ISBN-13: 978-0143105169
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Threepenny Opera (Penguin Classics)
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Top Customer Reviews
Bertolt Brecht wrote this opera at the age of 30. It was first produced in 1928, during the purported glory days of the Weimar Republic. Brecht was a nascent communist, perhaps only a version of which that was defined by a character in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition): “A Communist is any (S.O.B.) who wants 30 cents an hour when we’re paying 25 cents.” The opera is set in London, and is consider to be an update of “The Beggar’s Opera” which was first produced in 1728. In part, the enduring fame of Brecht’s work is the result of the harsh Nazi reaction to it.
Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum is proprietor of the Beggar’s Friend Ltd. A cynic if there ever was one. He provides prospective beggars with the best outfits to tug at the purse strings of passersby. MacHeath is “Mac the Knife,” (yes, of another song, once sung by Bobby Darin). He will marry Peachum’s daughter, Polly, although he is already married to at least other woman, Lucy, and has a string of other women, some “professionals,” on the line, which only reinforces that adage that at least some women find “bad boys” irresistible.
Brecht’s work is slapstick; it is farce; it is even a bit juvenile. The laws, and their enforcers, no surprise, are corrupt. Brecht has to concoct a Deus ex Machina to prevent Mac from being hanged. Another enduring theme, and I felt that it was the anarchist Peter Kropotkin who had first formulated this lament, but I could not confirm it via Google and assorted “Quote” sites, is when Mac the Knife complains: “We lower middle-class artisans who toil with our humble jemmies on small shopkeeper’s cash registers are being swallowed up by big corporations backed by the banks. What’s a jemmy compared with a share certificate? What’s breaking into a bank compared with founding a bank?”
Half of this Kindle version is notes, and the first 10% is a ramble by “The Editors,” much of which would have been appropriate – if at all – as an afterword. For the edition, and the opera itself, 4-stars.
The Beggars Opera first performed in 1728. The work is the story of Mack the Knife a nefarious criminal who is love with Polly Peacham. He is recued from the gallows in the last scene of the play. The work is notable for its witty score and music by Kurt Weill. The play is a staple of the modern theatre and made Brecht and Weill famous in Germany and throughout the world.