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The Threepenny Opera

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  5,315 ratings  ·  93 reviews
The Threepenny Opera was Brecht's first and greatest commercial success, and it remains one of his best-loved and most-performed plays. Based on John Gay's eighteenth-century Beggar's Opera, the play is set in Victorian England's Soho but satirizes the bourgeois society of the Weimar Republic through its wry love story of Polly Peachum and "Mack the Knife" Macheath. With K ...more
Paperback, 124 pages
Published August 1st 1994 by Arcade Publishing (first published 1928)
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The Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaThe Trial by Franz KafkaAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueFaust by Johann Wolfgang von GoethePerfume by Patrick Süskind
Best German/Austrian Literature
29th out of 520 books — 493 voters
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldWinnie-the-Pooh by A.A. MilneAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueThe Sun Also Rises by Ernest HemingwayThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Best Books of the Decade: 1920's
51st out of 297 books — 525 voters


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Community Reviews

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Tosh
As a hardcore boho 'Beat' kid, I was raised with the soundtrack of Kurt Weil/Bertolt Brecht's "Threepenny Opera." In fact, Lotte Lenya was probably the first singing voice I heard after my Mom - who used to sing to me when I was a little child.

Many years later I read the play/musical and was taken back at its cynical look in how society works. It's an amazing piece of theater and the music is and will always be superb.
Garrett Zecker
I have to say that this is one of the greatest things I have ever read. It is a play that is a fantastic reflection on the gutterly people that inhabit every city, and it shows a compassionate, entertaining reflection of them that criticizes the bourgeois and those in power. I think it also correctly showcases the true monster that is the human man. I think that, no matter what the man we are talking about, we all have the spirits of Mackie and Peachum buried somewhere in our hearts. This is a d ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This play with the fun poems and songs and the colorful characters was really enjoyable to read even in translation. This play would be really enjoyable to catch in a theater. Written in 1920s Weimar Germany and set in Victorian England among demi-monde scenes of performers, low lifes and cut throats it is a really entertaining play with a leftish political message. A lot of fun.
Czarny Pies
Nov 13, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Czarny by: Mom and Dad who saw it on Broadway.
Shelves: german-lit
Take the first chance you can to attend a performance of this fabulous operetta with words by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weil. It is one of the greatest works written for the stage in the twentieth century. Performers of even the most modest talent always seem able to rise to the occasion and delight the audiences.

My mother who saw the great Jerry Orbach perform in it in 1955 during its intial Broadway run was still talking about it fifty years afterwards. For my part I like to tell people
...more
Mike
English translation of a German play about bourgeois criminals, entertaining hybrids, middle management dressed in gutter rags. It was originally put on just before WWII in a Berlin dancing decadently on the edge of the abyss, and is in some ways apt for the current (Jan 2009) bankrupt America I live in today. I sincerely hope our current decline is not as brutal, nor our fall nearly as hard. Perhaps there is a prayer in reservation, some old medicine that might ward off the approaching reckonin ...more
Don
The right to happiness is fundamental:
Men live so little time and die alone.
Nor is it altogether incidental
They they want bread to eat and not a stone.
The right to happiness is fundamental.
And yet how great would be the innovation
Should someone claim and get that right---hooray!
But this old world of ours ain't built that way.


Epic theater. Great songs. One of my precious, precocious progeny is dramaturge for an upcoming production. Will re-review after that in December.

Especially recommend the fo
...more
James
When I read this I was already familiar with both Kurt Weill's music and the original Gay's Beggars' Opera that was inspiration for Brecht. The street life with characters like MacHeath and Jenny comes alive in Brecht's drama. Weimar culture was home to many artists who challenge both tradition and the conventional view of life. Inspired by their imagination and the political-economic upheaval that was taking place in this era artists like Brecht and Weill were changing the nature of theater and ...more
Dorottya Bacsi
There are so many things running through my mind now, as I am writing this review. I have never been so uncertain about a rating ever. In a moment, I want to give it 2 stars, then I wanna give it 5, then... ah, insane.

First of all, I have to admit that I have heard the music score a long time before actually reading the play. And I love it. The melodies, the rhythm, the lyrics... ah. And then, I have actually seen it on stage a bit later. And now the play. My own memories fight with each other.
...more
Ben
One of Brecht's most memorable works, that gave us remarkable characters like Mack the Knife, Polly Peachum and Lucy Brown. The jazz standard "Mack the Knife" is dancing through my mind as I write this.
Lina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
أحمد صــــلاح
الأوبريت نوع من المسرحيات الغنائية كان محبوباً في الفترة بين أواسط القرن التاسع عشر حتى العشرينيات من القرن العشرين الميلادي. تطور الأوبريت من الأوبرا الهزلية الفرنسية ولكنه يختلف عنها في أنه يحتوي على حوار كلامي بدلاً من الحوار الغنائي، وعلى أغاني بدلاً من ألحان. وغالباً ما تكون مقدمة الأوبريت خليطاً من أغان منتزعة من العرض وليست شيئاً مؤلفاً مستقلاً كما هو الحال في الأوبرا.

الغرض من الأوبريت هو الترفيه وإدخال السرور على النفوس وليس إثارة العواطف القوية أو الكشف عن قضايا مهمة أو مناقشة قضية ذهني
...more
Shivering William
Yes, I only watched the movie, but the adapted play is out of print and it was way too good not to write a review on it.

I came across The Three Penny Opera in the nerdiest way possible. Yup, the comic route. The most recent volume of Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has beggars and prostitutes belting out heart-wrenching opera of cutting morality and justified anger.

This isn't the first time Moore has led me to fine literature/stage work. After reading the first two volumes of Leag
...more
Licia
the first time I read this play I was in the first year of the hih school and I read it because I was involved in the school german theatre group and we had to show this play. my first impression was: O.M.G it's terribly rude and complicated. but reading twice I found many parts that are still actual. luckily I read it in the original language: you don't miss a word and it's usefull for practising this difficult idiom.
Brecht was very crue with the world of his days, but he warned us, because the
...more
Gustl
Particolarmente adatta alla rappresentazione scenica, con un impatto visivo curioso dovuto ai cartelli e uditivo grazie alle musiche di Kurt Weill. Per il resto una storia di tradimenti a girandola e una organica denuncia di rapporti umani difficili nella società borghese. Piacevole l'interazione dei personaggi con il pubblico e nel finale interviene nientedimeno che Herr Brecht, in un curioso accenno di metatomanzo. Vorrei vederlo a Teatro.
Roxy S.
Oy. I know. I basically stopped reading in November. That isn't the case though. I was reading a few other things but had tons of work to do (fucking end of semester!). Anyway I read this play quite quickly. I enjoyed it a lot. Our final full reading assignment for my arts and ideas course. It illustrates Weimar Berlin to a tee and also taught me a lot about the German anti-illusionist theater. I love the whole concept, I am even considering joining our German theater troupe next year so I can a ...more
علی
اپرای سه پولی، در شکل اولیه، یک موزیکال است. برشت این نمایش نامه را بر مبنای یک اپرای انگلیسی نوشته که داستانش در دوران ویکتوریا در لندن اتفاق می افتد. ماچس علیرغم مخالفت "پیچام" که یک باند گدا را در لندن اداره می کند، با دخترش "پولی پیچام" ازدواج می کند. آقای پیچام از تمام قدرت و نفوذ خود استفاده می کند تا ماچس را به پای دار بکشاند. با وجودی که "تایگر براون"، رییس پلیس و دوست دوران سربازی ماچس، تلاش می کند تا او را از مخمصه برهاند، اما پیچام بالاخره موفق می شود ماچس را به پشت میله ها و پای چوبه ...more
David
Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera is utterly brilliant, a brilliance you notice on the first page all the way to the last page. Its characters as whimsical as they are feel just as real as a person walking down the street. The Threepenny Opera has layer after layer of moral and political points of view that I could spend hours going into but its most prominent moral insight is that although Mackie the knife; thief, murder and crime lord, is eventually caught for his crimes. A character born ...more
Andreas Enderlin
Returning to Brecht after almost 8 years I found myself very much entertained by this piece of work. It is a short play so there is not much I can say without giving anything away. In short it is a criminals adventure and misfortune combined with human fallibility.
Sandra
"Ihr Herrn, die ihr uns lehrt, wie man brav leben/
Und Sünd und Missetat vermeiden kann/
Zuerst müßt ihr uns was zu fressen geben/
Dann könnt ihr reden: damit fängt es an./
Ihr, die ihr euren Wanst und unsre Bravheit liebt/
Dies eine wisset ein für alle mal:/
Wie ihr es immer dreht und wie ihr's immer schiebt/
Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral./"

Was mir an der Dreigroschenoper so gut gefallen hat, ist, dass sie nicht (nur) von Recht und Unrecht handelt, sondern vor allem auch von den Charakt
...more
Jay
Can you believe that I read a book that had absolutely nothing to do with food or the old "how to be a better woman for my man" books that I can't seem to stop laughing at (and giving my female friends "advice" from)!? I know that I can't!

I picked up this book at Small World Books in Rochester, NY while on a trip that I made out that way specifically for used book shopping. Admittedly, I only purchased it because I knew that two songstresses that I rather adore (Nellie McKay and Cyndi Lauper) ha
...more
derek
neat. the lumpen proletariat. feel like there was a lot i missed by reading this instead of watching it obviously. im intrigued by brecht's project tho. 3rd act was pretty funny. would be interested in an analysis of how gender works in this.
Serenity
2/10. I understand that this is one of the Great Masters of Theatre. I learned in class that Brecht made a tremendous impact to theatre and started his own theatrical tradition. I also learned that the whole signs-device and didactical bits were very novel in his time. But it really, really disappointed all of my expectations. I even saw it live and it defintiely was a flop. It did not deliver on any of the promised scandal or excitement. The musical pieces were random and did not add much. The ...more
Cristina
As my first Brecht, I didn't know what to expect, and although it was not exactly what I had in mind, it was a great surprise. Taking into consideration I only read this, I suppose my perception of it may be weak, given that this was definitely meant to be seen. The entire discourse presented is extremely interesting. I was shocked by the tone of it, perhaps, given the date, as it is more daring that I expected, but that made it all the more amusing. The entire depiction of the morality of all c ...more
Ilya Kavalerov
Very good play. Riveting, with some gratification at the end.
Nispuk
Text und Kommentar T SBB 48 Brecht Dreigroschenoper
Tanya
We did this as a school production once and I had to sing 'Mack the Knife' at the beginning of the play. Also was assigned to sing some other ballads throughout and sing the closing number, which was fun. All in all, one of my most favourite Brecht plays for the messages in it and the action-packed script. This isn't a compliment to The Threepenny Opera, but can I just express my intense love for Brecht's views on getting the audience to think critically about a play rather than just watch it fo ...more
Karlo Mikhail
This is very funny. Down with capitalism!
Andi
Came to this thru the cast album, and of course the iconic song.
I needed the story to fill in all the blanks and I am currently reading the material it was sourced off of: The Beggars Opera.
If you can get past some of the biblical preaching and cut to the chase, which to me is the baser impulses of man and the wry, sarcastic and nasty ass character of McHeath and how he gets it over on everyone, well its a hell of a story, Also the 1976 cast album with the wonderful Raul Julia as McHeath is tota
...more
Cansu Çiftçi
"once ekmek gelir sonra ahlak!"
Anna
My favourite Brecht play of all time. But is it a good read? Not really because to state the obvious: this is not a "read", it's a play (or rather a musical) and plays are for playing out on stage. Although one of Brecht's special gifts was to write plays that are infinitely readable, this one's strength lies way more in the musical score by Weill (see "Mac the Knife"/ "Pirate Jenny") than the story itself, which is a potpourri of well known classics stewed up in true Brecht style.
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Bertolt Brecht (born Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht) was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director. A seminal theatre practitioner of the twentieth century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the Berliner Ensemble—the post-war theatre company operated by Brecht a ...more
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“Denn die einen sind im Dunkeln
Und die anderen sind im Licht.
Und man sieht nur die im Lichte
Die im Dunkeln sieht man nicht.”
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“يا حارس السجن ليه خايف من المسجون
هي الحيطان اللي بينا قش يا ملعون
و لا السلاسل ورق و لا السجين شمشون”
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