Skip To Content
Back to all works

Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera)

Play with music after John Gay's The Beggar's Opera; in three acts. By Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in collaboration with Elisabeth Hauptmann.

Work Details

Duration

Full Evening, 65 minutes music

First Performance

31 August 1928, Berlin, Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, Erich Engel, dir., Theo Mackeben, cond.

For information about licensing this work for use, see our online guide

(NOTE: For information and featured media relating to the Marc Blitzstein adaptation of The Threepenny Opera, see the link below under “Adaptations & Translations.”)

Prologue

After the , the Street Singer comes onstage with a barrel organ and sings of the notorious bandit and womanizer Macheath, Mack the Knife (). The setting is a fair in Soho (London), just before Queen Victoria’s coronation.

Act I

Act I begins in the shop of Jonathan Peachum (), who controls London’s beggars, equipping and training them in return for a cut of their “earnings.” He enrolls a new beggar with the help of his wife, after which they notice that their grown daughter Polly did not come home the previous night (). The scene shifts to an empty stable where Macheath is about to marry Polly, as soon as his gang has stolen and brought all the necessary food and furnishings (). The gang gets nervous when Chief of Police Tiger Brown arrives, but Brown turns out to be an old army buddy of Mack’s ().

Act II

Polly tells Mack that her father will have him arrested. He makes arrangements to leave London, explaining his bandit “business” to Polly so she can manage it in his absence, and he departs ( and ). Polly decisively takes over the gang as Mrs. Peachum bribes Jenny, Mack’s old lover, to turn him in (). On the way out of London, Mack stops at his favorite brothel to visit Jenny (). To placate Peachum, Brown’s only option is to arrest Mack and have him executed. Jenny mourns Mack’s plight (). In the next scene, Mack is back in jail (). He begs the gang to raise a sufficient bribe, but they cannot ( part 2). A parade of visitors–Brown, Jenny, Peachum, and Polly–enters as Mack prepares to die (). Then a sudden reversal: A messenger on horseback arrives to announce that Macheath has been pardoned by the Queen and granted a castle and pension ().

  • Moritat vom Mackie Messer
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Morgenchoral des Peachum
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Anstatt dass-Song
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Hochzeitslied
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Seeräuberjenny
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Kanonen-Song
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Liebeslied
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Barbarasong
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Erstes Dreigroschenfinale
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Melodram
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Pollys Lied
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Ballade von der sexuellen Hörigkeit
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Zuhälterballade
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Ballade vom angenehmen Leben
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Eifersuchtsduett
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Zweites Dreigroschenfinale
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Lied von der Unzulänglichkeit menschlichen Strebens
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Salomonsong
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Ruf aus der Gruft
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Grabschrift
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Drittes Dreigroschenfinale
    100
    0:00 / 0:00
  • Arie der Lucy (piano only)
    100
    0:00 / 0:00

  • Cast

    • Singing Roles

      • Street Singer, Macheath (tenor)
      • J.J. Peachum (baritone)
      • Mrs. Peachum (mezzo-soprano)
      • Polly Peachum (soprano)
      • Tiger Brown (bass-baritone)
      • Lucy Brown (soprano)
      • Jenny (mezzo-soprano)
      • Constable Smith
      • Ensemble
    • Non-Singing Roles

      • Filch
      • The Rev. Kimball
      • The gang of thieves
      • Beggars, prostitutes, policemen
  • Instrumentation

    • Alto saxophone (fl, cl, bar. sax)
    • Tenor saxophone (sop. sax, bn, bass cl)
    • Trumpet
    • Trombone (double bass)
    • Banjo (cello, guitar, Hawaiian guitar, mandolin, bandoneon)
    • Timpani/percussion (tpt 2)
    • Harmonium (celesta, piano)

  • English

    • Ralph Manheim & John Willett (outside the USA and Canada)
    • Michael Feingold
    • Robert David McDonald & Jeremy Sams
  • French

    • Jean-Claude Hémery
  • Italian

    • Emilio Castellani

  • Kleine Dreigroschenmusik (Little Threepenny Music) 1929

    Suite from Die Dreigroschenoper for wind orchestra created by Weill.

    Read More
  • Sieben Stücke nach der Dreigroschenoper (Seven Pieces from Die Dreigroschenoper) 1930

    Arranged for violin and piano by Stefan Frenkel (1929). Also available in a simplified arrangement.

    Read More
  • Suite aus der Dreigroschenoper (Suite from The Threepenny Opera) 1956

    Arranged for orchestra by Max Schönherr.

    Read More
  • Music from The Threepenny Opera 1982

    Arranged for saxophone quartet by John Harle (1982).

    Read More
  • Blues-Potpourri (Tanzpotpourri I) aus der Dreigroschenoper 1929

    Arrangement for jazz orchestra with voice ad lib. by Hartwig von Platen (1929).

    Read More
  • Foxtrot-Potpourri (Tanzpotpourri II) aus der Dreigroschenoper 1929

    Arrangement for jazz orchestra with voice ad lib. by Hartwig von Platen (1929).

    Read More
  • Sechs Songs aus der Dreigroschenoper (Six Songs from Die Dreigroschenoper) 2002

    Arranged for piano by Marino Formenti (2002).

    Read More
  • Tango-Ballade und Kanonen-Song aus Die Dreigroschenoper 1928

    Arrangement for jazz orchestra and voice ad lib. by Jerzy Fitelberg (1928).

    Read More
  • The Judgment of Paris 1938

    Ballet compiled by Antony Tudor incorporating music from Die Dreigroschenoper.

    Read More

The Works of Kurt Weill

explore the works database

The Life & Career of Kurt Weill

Explore the Timeline
100
0:00 / 0:00

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.