“The real stars of this show are the actors of the Comédie-Française” says Le Figaro.  The Festival d’Aix-en-Provence presents a major new production of L’Opéra de quat’sous (The Threepenny Opera), directed by Thomas Ostermeier and premiering a thoughtful new translation by Alexandre Pateau.


“The 75th Aix-en-Provence Festival was launched on Tuesday by a wild and wacky new take on the Bertolt Brecht / Kurt Weill / Elisabeth Hauptmann collaboration The Threepenny Opera.”

Telegraph – Nicholas Kenyon

“In Aix, The Threepenny Opera may not be an unqualified triumph for Thomas Ostermeier, its German director, but at least the show’s roll-call of lowlife misfits is luxuriously cast. Christian Hecq and Véronique Vella are exuberantly, wackily brilliant as the shallow Mr. and Mrs. Peachum. Not all the actors are equally fine singers, so Vella’s powerful voice is an asset here. So are the vocal talents of Marie Oppert, a recent recruit to the Comédie-Française troupe and a trained singer who, in the role of Polly, turned ‘Pirate Jenny’ into a showstopping number.”

New York Times – Laura Cappelle

The troupe is led by the sparkling Véronique Vella as Mackie Messer’s mother-in-law, Mrs Peachum. She combines the clarity of diction of a cabaret singer with the ability to deliver punch lines intelligently and a stage presence second to none. A dangerous woman! Her performance could be a welcome corrective for the fuzzy interpretations of so many trained opera singers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – Anja-Rosa Thöming

Macheath (Birane Ba) and Polly (Marie Oppert) in the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence production. Photo © 2023 Jean-Louis Fernandez.

“There’s no doubting the virtuosity of the musicians from Le Balcon and there was plenty of good playing, so the audience fully experienced the cognitive dissonance of Weill’s seductively catchy music and Brecht’s vicious lyrics. And there were plenty of musical highlights, most notably the instrumental repeat of the ‘Cannon Song.’ But too often, the musical performance erred on the overblown. From the outset, Pascal overemphasized the percussive aspects of the score, drowning the lyricism, and some of the instruments, most notably the bass guitar, were over-amplified, drawing far too much attention away from the voices.”

Bachtrack – David Karlin

“Ostermeier appeared to have so much control over the material, with such a by-the-book treatment of the text, that it came off as mannered. For all its grit and modern look, this Threepenny, performed by the company of the Comédie-Française, was ultimately conventional. A director must know exactly what to say with the piece; anything else is bound, as here, to be a slog of a recitation.”

New York Times Joshua Barone

“Ostermeier’s unrelenting commitment to literal realism seems to have eclipsed the very essence of the play’s symbolic and zany heart…. By trying to adhere too rigidly to a bare-bones ‘reality,’ he’s lost the point of the show and ironically missed a fundamental truth about theatre: that it thrives not just on the cruelty and victims of the world, but also on the vitality, empathy, and subversive humor of its characters.”

Parterre – Joel Rozen

Photo © 2023 Jean-Louis Fernandez

“The visual world of this Threepenny Opera can be enjoyed without qualification: the text overlays that Brecht used to locate the events can be read on moving LED light strips. Three large LED panels hang on the right. In the shapes of circles, wedges and rectangles, they are reminiscent of geometric abstraction and Suprematism, a touch of New Objectivity next to the expressionism of the theatrical plot.”

Tagesspiegel – Eberhard Spreng

“The real stars of this show are the actors of the Comédie-Française, whose considerable work we appreciate. Even if the Mackie of the very young Birane Ba seemed to us paralyzed by stage fright on the evening of the first, all are breathtaking. The Peachum couple (Véronique Vella and Christian Hecq) is irresistible in its uninhibited cynicism. Marie Oppert’s Polly puts her training as an opera singer to good use without hogging the limelight. Elsa Lepoivre conveys all the hoarse resignation of the prostitute Jenny.”

Le Figaro – Christian Merlin

“Despite a few small drops in tension, the show shows great aesthetic coherence, perfect fluidity between the different scenes, and an ardent commitment from the artists…. Precise acting, enlivened by the impulsive choreography of Johanna Lemke, marries different parameters whose friction gives the production all its salt.”


Jenny (Elsa Lepoivre), Mr. Peachum (Christian Hecq), and Mrs. Peachum (Véronique Vella) in the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence production. Photo © 2023 Jean-Louis Fernandez.

“The show loses a little of its cabaret side on the huge open-air stage of the Théâtre de l’Archevêché, and this despite the efforts made by the actors of the troupe to challenge the spectators and involve them in the frantic sarabande of the beggars of London. And some of the gags drag on.”

Webtheatre.fr – Noël Tinazzi

“Alexandre Pateau’s translation is a considerable contribution to Brechtian theater in France. We have had enough experience of translations that flatten the text not to be struck by its rhythm, its insolence, its modernity of yesterday and today. Above all, it was designed to be said and sung, not to be read, and that changes everything.”

Le Figaro – Christian Merlin