Sixty years ago, a young director named Giorgio Strehler made history with a production of The Threepenny Opera in Milan. Bertolt Brecht attended rehearsals and worked with Strehler on the production only a few months before his death. 1956 was a big year for the work, which saw an influential staging in London as well as Milan, a mere two years after the epoch-making premiere of Marc Blitzstein’s English adaptation off-Broadway in New York.
Strehler went on to a long and fruitful career–the theater in which Threepenny plays is named after him–and led more major productions of The Threepenny Opera. Damiano Michieletto takes up the torch in 2016 with a new production of the work; he has also translated the song lyrics into Italian (the book is translated by Roberto Menin). He describes his approach as “an attempt to deconstruct the story and rebuild it according to a specific circumstance, in order to create the necessary analytical distance.” He focuses on the trial as an organizing principle for interpretation of the piece; a look at the photo below shows that prison bars form an integral part of the set.
L’opera da tre soldi enjoys a long run in the Piccolo Teatro Strehler of over forty performances (last performance: 11 June). Marco Foschi will play Macheath, Maria Roveran Polly, and Peppe Servillo Mr. Peachum.
Video highlights from RAI
Brief description by Damiano Michieletto (video)
Interview with conductor Giuseppe Grazioli (La Repubblica)
Piccolo Teatro archival resources for Threepenny Opera
Article on the 1956 production (in Italian)
Learn more about The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper)
Wedding scene from Act I
Director Damiano Michieletto (far right) confers with cast members during rehearsals