Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera)
With its legendary songs and a story about love, betrayal, business and morals that is as outrageous as it is cleverly reworked in terms of social criticism and trivial at its core, the "Threepenny Opera," which premiered at this theater in 1928, became a surprise hit worldwide overnight. "First comes the food, then comes the morals," the famous lines go - but those who live in prosperity may live comfortably, but they are far from good.
So Mackie Messer, Peachum and Co have, of necessity, their own material advantage in mind first and foremost, and go to considerable theatrical lengths to enforce it without scruples, while at the same time disguising or even glossing over precisely that. For who wouldn't like to be good? In Barrie Kosky's reading, the "Threepenny Opera" becomes a big-city ballad about people seeking happiness in a functional, sober world. That would begin, first of all, with not having to constantly fear being taken advantage of or coming up short. But that is precisely not the case in the world Brecht describes.
On the contrary. The fear of the crash lurks in the system, which knows no rules, but only winners or losers: distorting mirror of total capitalism. Thus, for Brecht, it is not human vices that produce social ills, but the other way around. However, in order to draw appropriate conclusions from this and to fundamentally change something about the circumstances, the characters are too busy pretending to others and to themselves. They play with common, clichéd notions of one-time love as a romantic relationship between two people, with ideas of eternal friendship, of family care and compassion as an indispensable prerequisite for the fight against injustice; with set pieces from the melodrama, from moralistic sentimental plays, from dime novels, from the musical comedy, the opera, the operetta, and much more.
On the one hand, the authors have allowed themselves great theatrical fun with this, and at the same time, all this false pretense creates a lot of loneliness, in some cases perhaps something like "splendid isolation," in others the path leads rather into darkness, into all the social areas that are excluded. Brecht manages the feat of telling about social coldness without making the characters seem heartless. Their longing for security, closeness and commitment remains present above all because it is not fulfilled - and because of Kurt Weill's unforgettable music.
Barrie Kosky, known to Berlin audiences as the chief director and artistic director of the Komische Oper, takes on the fifth new production of The Threepenny Opera at this theater. Among other things, he has made a name for himself with his delight in contemporary and cheeky entertainment. Kosky is one of the most sought-after opera directors of the present day. Engagements have taken him around the world. Under the directorship of Oliver Reese, he also directed plays at the Deutsches Theater as well as at Schauspiel Frankfurt.
(Program in German)