Our production team has been busy all summer creating a new and exciting production of The Threepenny Opera, and with that comes a new theater plan.
Photo courtesy of Madison Opera
Not your mother’s opera, The Threepenny Opera presents a sharp political perspective and social commentary wrapped in the sounds of 1920’s Berlin jazz and cabaret. Most will recognize the tune made famous by Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and countless others. Describing the principal character MacHeath aka “Mackie Messer”, “Mack The Knife” originated in Threepenny. Actually, it was Mark Blitzstein who coined the song’s title, “Mack the Knife” in the 1950’s. The original German translation, “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” or “The Deadly Doings of Mackie Messer” is traditionally sung by a street singer in the opening scene. <Insider scoop: IO will present the famous song with a slight twist in our upcoming October production.>
Kurt Weill was born on 2 March 1900 in Dessau, Germany. The son of a cantor, Weill displayed musical talent early on. By the time he was twelve, he was composing and mounting concerts and dramatic works in the hall above his family's quarters in the Gemeindehaus. During the First World War, the teenage Weill was conscripted as a substitute accompanist at the Dessau Court Theater. After studying theory and composition with Albert Bing, Kapellmeister of the Theater, Weill enrolled at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, but found the conservative training and the infrequent lessons with Engelbert Humperdinck too stifling. After a season as conductor of the newly formed municipal theater in Lüdenscheid, he returned to Berlin and was accepted into Ferruccio Busoni's master class in composition. He supported himself through a wide range of musical occupations, from playing organ in a synagogue to piano in a Bierkeller, by tutoring students (including Claudio Arrau and Maurice Abravanel) in music theory, and, later, by contributing music criticism to Der deutsche Rundfunk, the weekly program journal of the German radio.