The Threepenny Opera
This Student Edition of Brecht's satire on the capitalist society of the Weimar Republic features an extensive introduction and commentary that includes a plot summary, discussion of the context, themes, characters, style and language as well as questions for further study and notes on words and phrases in the text.
Based on John Gay's eighteenth century Beggar's Opera, The Threepenny Opera, first staged in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin, is a vicious satire on the bourgeois capitalist society of the Weimar Republic, but set in a mock-Victorian Soho.
It focuses on the feud between Macheaf - an amoral criminal - and his father in law, a racketeer who controls and exploits London's beggars and is intent on having Macheaf hanged. Despite the resistance by Macheaf's friend the Chief of Police, Macheaf is eventually condemned to hang, until in a comic reversal the queen pardons him and grants him a title and land. With Kurt Weill's unforgettable music - one of the earliest and most successful attempts to introduce jazz to the theatre - it became a popular hit throughout the western world.
The text is presented in the trusted translation by Ralph Manheim and John Willett.