by Nick Rickert ’23
Last week Evan and I were delighted to attend Theater Bremen’s performance of the classic German musical play “Die Dreigroschenoper” (The Threepenny Opera), written by Bertolt Brecht with music composed by Kurt Weill and first performed in Berlin in 1928. This was our first time attending a theatrical performance in Bremen. Having only read a brief synopsis of the narrative beforehand, we came to find that the production was much less of what one might expect from an opera but rather a musical supported by a modestly sized jazz ensemble (with no conductor!). I wouldn’t call myself an avid musical goer, but I was enthralled by the lively assortment of characters and fantastic music.
Adapted from an 18th-century English ballad opera, “Die Dreigroschenoper” tells the precarious love story between the antihero Macheath (Mackie Messer), a prominent gangster, and Polly Peachum, whose father controls the beggers of London and is determined to put Macheath in prison after the two become married (not to mention tying the knot just days after meeting for the first time!). I was immersed as soon as the curtains opened silently to reveal a rugged wooden floor with a steep slope and the beggars laying in darkness.
I was stunned by the singing voices of Polly and Macheath, whose dialogue and ballads easily stole the stage whenever they appeared. In between these moving scenes Evan and I couldn’t help but chuckle at every move of the corrupt chief of police “Tiger” who broke the fourth wall by having a short interaction with the drummer, breaking one of their cymbals. I also found it heartwarming that since it was the last performance of this production, the director bade thoughtful farewells to several cast members leaving the theater company. Later that evening I couldn’t help but hum ‘Die Moritat von Mackie Messer’ to myself.