Bertolt Brecht, Die Dreigroschenoper [The Threepenny Opera]

Piet Defraeye (University of Alberta)
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Die Dreigroschenoper (usually translated as The Threepenny Opera) is one of Bertolt Brecht’s best known works, likely the most performed, and certainly the one play that provided Brecht with much-needed cash throughout his adult life. It is the outcome of a successful collaboration between three gifted artists: Bertolt Brecht, German composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950), and the German-American scholar and writer Elizabeth Hauptmann (1897-1973), whose stake in the project has historically been undervalued. Most commonly, she is credited as a contributing translator, as for instance avows on its website devoted exclusively to the Threepenny chronicle. Both Hauptmann and Weill had collaborated with Brecht on previous occasions. The Weill-Brecht alliance started in 1927 with work on the Mahagonny Songs (1927). Hauptmann and Brecht had an established co-creative rapport since 1924 and also became lovers. It was, however, Elizabeth Hauptmann who discovered John Gay’s 1728 The Beggar’s Opera, as it was re-staged in multiple English theatres in the 1920s, and she decided to translate it. While Brecht was initially not particularly interested in the play, an opportunity arose for a major contract for the reopening of the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin. Brecht managed to persuade the theatre’s new director, Ernst Aufricht, to sign a production contract for the still to be developed musical play, which, according to Aufricht, Brecht initially proposed under the title Gesindel or “Riffraff.” When the first draft was printed in June 1928, it bore the title Die Ludenoper, or “Pimp’s Opera” (see Brecht, Stücke 2, 425). It was apparently Brecht’s friend and collaborator, the writer Lion Feuchtwanger, who proposed the title Die Dreigroschenoper shortly before opening night during rehearsals in August 1928 (Brecht, Stücke 2, 428).

Based on John Gay’s work, the play tells the story of Macheath—also called Mackie Messer or Mac the Knife—and his band of thieves that roam the streets and warehouses of London, condoned by Tiger Brown, London’s Commissioner of Police and an opportunistic colluder in crime. The play opens in the warehouse of Beggars’ Friend, the private venture of Mr. and Mrs. Peachum, who send out a gang of beggars on contract in exchange for shelter, panhandlers’ costumes, and a small percentage of the alms they receive. Early on in Act One, their daughter, Polly Peachum, secretly elopes with womanizer Macheath and promptly marries him, whereupon her parents draft a plan to set up Macheath’s den of prostitutes against their kingpin: they blackmail Tiger Brown into arresting his buddy.

In Act Two, Polly convinces Macheath to go into hiding in order to avoid arrest. During his absence, Macheath gives her total control of his empire and forces his gang to pledge allegiance to the young woman. Mackie then goes to the brothel, where his once favorite girl, Jenny, swayed by Mrs. Peachum, betrays him. He is arrested by the police while their Chief, Tiger Brown, looks on and already plots his release. Once Macheath is in jail, Brown’s daughter, Lucy, invents a scheme with the gangster to let him escape. While Lucy is courting Macheath, Polly Peachum arrives on a conjugal visit, and the two women engage in an impassioned vocal duel in the famous “Eifersuchtsduett” or “Jealousy Duet”. The scene ends with Lucy helping Macheath escape and the elder Mrs. Peachum confronting Tiger Brown for his collusion. She threatens to compromise Brown’s reputation with her army of beggars unless Macheath is put back behind bars.

Act Three has the prostitute Jenny confront Mr. Peachum for not giving her the promised reward for Macheath’s capture, yet she also reveals Macheath’s new hiding place. Police Chief Brown is cornered by the Peachums’ brazen threat to unleash all their beggars during Queen Victoria’s coronation parade. Back in jail, Macheath’s fate now seems sealed, as the gallows are being constructed for his execution. Tiger Brown looks on helplessly as his pal is escorted to the gallows. Yet, in a deus-ex-machina ending, with a messenger typically descending from the stage flies, Macheath is reprieved and sent off to a castle with a life-long pension. The whole cast wraps up with the “Third Threepenny Finale” song, heralding a “Happy ending, nice and tidy” and admonishing the audience not to judge their fellow men too harshly.

The triangular conflict situates the roguish Macheath between the malicious Peachums and the corrupt Tiger Brown. Combined, these worlds evoke late nineteenth-century London, in full-blown crisis with unemployment, hunger, crime, and prostitution, on the one hand, and unabated but concentrated wealth, gospel preaching, and corruption on the other. The coronation of Queen Victoria forms the historical background of the play, an event that mostly signals the upholding of appearances. Life itself, however, underneath the shiny bubble of pump and circumstance, is a constant struggle of Darwinian survival within a dark urban landscape. The play has no redeeming characters that may function as guiding examples, nor does it endorse a particular ideology of resistance or liberation. If it foregrounds anything, it is a dog-eat-dog kind of world, in which individuals can only survive by leeching opportunistically from others.

Elijah Moshinsky suggests that the play can be read as a response to Germany’s turbulent postwar period during the Weimar Republic. While Brecht’s plays are typically seen as dialectical vehicles for change, Moshinsky argues that The Threepenny Opera demonstrates the “impossibility of fundamental social change in a pluralistic capitalist society” (41). The play puts forward a “political deadlock” that mirrors the stalemate and corruption of the Weimar Republic, which ultimately led to its demise. Although Threepenny is set in nineteenth-century England (stage directions indicate “London, 1837”), the echoes of early twentieth-century Weimar are prominent. Urban centers in Germany grew at an unprecedented speed at the turn of the century, creating huge social problems of urban planning and unequal wealth distribution. Between 1880 and 1910, for instance, Munich—where Brecht went to university and wrote his first published play—tripled in size. His nearby hometown of Augsburg doubled in size during the same time period. This brisk development happened against the background of a rapid industrialization and the emergence of pioneering chemical and electronics industries with the arrival of new conglomerates like Bayer, BASF, AEG, Siemens, and many others, whose names are now fixtures in Germany’s economy. The precipitous rise of these firms propelled huge changes from a crafts-based economy to a fully industrialized society, destabilizing worker training needs and employment patterns. Parallel to this development, workers started organizing, unions became powerful advocates for their rights, and political parties radicalized. Particularly during the period of hyper-inflation from the end of the war until 1923 and that of the economic depression sparked in the late 1920s by the U.S. stock-market crash, social unrest was ubiquitous. Political rivalries fomented a violent social environment, with multiple gangs from the right and the left fighting each other relentlessly in the streets of Germany’s big cities. Violent attacks, thefts, and political murders happened with increasing frequency in the second half of the 1920s. The rapidly changing political landscape brought about an opportunistic survivor disposition, much like the world in The Threepenny Opera and many of its characters, including the gangster Filch and his mates. The strong women in the play (Mrs. Peachum, Polly, Jenny, Lucy) echo the emancipation of women in the Weimar Republic; many women entered the workforce and were active in workers’ unions, and women could vote as of 1919 (nine years earlier than in the United Kingdom). As in the world of the play, there was also a wave of sexual liberation: brothels had become an accepted commodity during the First World War, and women in Germany’s big cities acquired ever greater control over their reproductive rights and sexual pursuits. The Weimar parliament approved limited abortion rights in 1927, a year before the play’s opening (they were rescinded by the National Socialists in 1931).

Brecht’s play scripts are known for their strong female characters, and The Threepenny Opera is no exception to this general rule. (John Fuegi attributes this quality mostly to the impact and creative contributions of his talented female collaborators and, particularly in the case of Threepenny, to Hauptmann’s writing [see “Zelda” and Katz].) While Macheath, Jonathan Peachum, and Brown form a tripod in a patriarchal story, it is mostly the women in the play that make it entertaining to watch. Polly is young and naïve, but courageously dives headfirst into her new responsibilities as a gangster leader. Her two rivals in love, Lucy and Jenny, are calculating and unashamed. The scene with the prostitutes in Act Two, always a favorite with the audience with its “Zuhälterballade” or “Pimp’s Ballad”, displays a colorful collection of assertive sex workers. Mrs. Peachum is the matriarch in the play, bartering morals, sexual exchanges, and finances without blinking. Brecht scholars Martin and Erika Swales, in their study on the playwright’s female characters, refer to the cognitive independence of these women, which gives them some autonomy to explore and experience their human condition. There are, in other words, no a-priori forbidden avenues or choices for the women in Threepenny.

In spite of its ongoing rich production history, The Threepenny Opera remains underdiscussed in Brecht criticism. Steve Giles’s Bertolt Brecht and Critical Theory (1997) centers on the politics of the lawsuit that Brecht initiated (and lost) during the filming of the script, after he was fired by the Nero Company as the film’s screenplay-writer in 1930. Walter Benjamin’s essay on the Threepenny novel is certainly helpful for our understanding of the theatre piece. For Benjamin, the work “depicts the objective truth about the relationship between bourgeois legality and crime, the latter being shown as a special case of exploitation sanctioned by the former” (83). The temporal transposition from nineteenth-century London to Weimar Germany has a telescopic effect and helps to foreground the Marxist analysis that critiques the criminal aspects of business. Critics like Elijah Moshinsky and Florian Becker build further on this account in their comment on the play’s Marxist intentions and its dialectical potential. Other scholarship focuses on musicological aspects, including that by Stephen McNeff and Peter Ferran. The latter looks at the individual songs of the piece as expressions of a lyrical gestus. Harvard comparatist Daniel Albright considers resonances of Richard Wagner in Kurt Weill’s score.

When the curtain rose for the premiere of Die Dreigroschenoper on the evening of August 31, 1928, after a tumultuous and acrimonious rehearsal period, most insiders had predicted a swift closure. Until the last moment, both Brecht and Weill continued with changes to script and music; even the casting underwent last-minute changes, which certainly did not nourish the artists’ confidence. The production was designed by Brecht’s close friend, Caspar Neher, and featured some important innovations, which later became trademark characteristics of Brecht’s epic theatre, including the projections of scene titles, the raw scenery, and the visual presence of musicians on stage. Erich Engel directed the production and largely followed Brecht’s suggestions for a frontal kind of acting, without conventional beauty or elegance. Nevertheless, the production process became increasingly acrimonious, with Engel finally storming out of the dress rehearsal, forcing Brecht himself to take over as director for the last few days.

On opening night, when the Ballad Singer’s hand-cranked organ broke down in the prologue, during the first song, “Moritat of Mack the Knife”, things looked bleak. The eight-person band, handling 23 instruments, took over. The audience was stoically still and remained so until Police Chief Brown and Macheath launched into the catchy fox-trot tempo of the ironic “Kanonen” song. The two men gleefully sang of military spoils and conquest, chopping up resistant “braune oder blasse” (“darkies and whities”) alike into “Beefsteak Tartar”, while the rest of the gang stomped out the rhythm in their army boots. The response was overwhelming and the production was essentially halted until the two gave an encore of the same song. The show was sold out the next day and remained so for months.

The list of collaborators for this first production resonates with names that became central in Brecht’s project of epic theatre, with many of these artists going on to become part of Germany’s pantheon of theatre. Apart from Engel, Weiss, Neher, and Brecht himself, we can single out lead actor Harald Paulsen (Mackie), who went on to become a celebrated actor in scores of German films, as did Erich Ponto, who played Mr. Peachum. Weiss’s wife, Lotte Lenya, based nearly her entire career on her brilliant interpretation of Jenny. Ernst Busch (Smith) went on to become one of Brecht’s favorite actors at the Berliner Ensemble theatre, founded after the Second World War in 1949. Others that were involved in rehearsals or hovered in the wings of the production include the actress Carola Neher, expressionist painter Georg Grosz, Lion Feuchtwanger, Nobel Prize winner Elias Canetti, the Austrian playwright Karl Kraus, and Brecht’s famous actress and future wife Helene Weigel.

Much has been written about the collaboration between Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and Bertolt Brecht. The fact is, it was a troubled collaboration, one which Weill repeatedly threatened to walk out on. In 1926, he had married the dancer-singer Lotte Lenya, whose voice has become synonymous with the typical acerbic aesthetic of Threepenny. He met Brecht in 1927, and the two men decided to collaborate on the “Mahagonny” poems for a festival in Baden-Baden, which later led to the opera they co-wrote, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1930). By that time, though, and because of the tensions that had surfaced throughout the Threepenny rehearsals two years earlier, their relationship had soured so much that both of them would have to resort to lawyers to communicate with each other.

Weill’s music was in no small part responsible for the success of the play and the composer responded with the edition of a short compilation of Kleine Dreigroschenmusik für Blasorchester three months after the premiere. Berlin and most of Germany was stoked on a Threepenny-fever; the songs became favorite fare in cabarets, cafés, dance halls, and on the radio. A total of eleven record companies brought 21 records on the market between 1929 and 1931 (Brecht, Stücke 2, 439). While music had always been important for Brecht—in his late teens, he spent hours performing in bars in Augsburg and Munich—after the Threepenny success, it became not only an intuitive part of performance, but also a central ingredient of his recipe for epic theatre. In the years to come, Brecht would collaborate with some of Germany’s greatest contemporaneous composers, including, apart from Kurt Weill, Franz Bruinier, Paul Hindemith, Hanns Eisler, and, most often, Paul Dessau.

Like many of Brecht’s plays, The Threepenny Opera collates fragments from different sources, combining them with original writing. Philip Glahn calls it a “thievish play” (89) in his Brecht monograph. Collaboration, as a more neutral assertion, clearly is Brecht’s modus operandi; determining exactly what Brecht’s share of his creative output is has been a topic of intense debate among critics and scholars. (Brecht himself attributes much of the issue to his “plain lack of interest in the legalities of intellectual property” [qtd. in Brecht, Stücke 2, 440].) The Threepenny Opera is to a large extent a rewrite of John Gay’s 1728 Beggar’s Opera, including the cabaret structure of the play within a play. (John Gay’s play in turn is chiefly inspired by Jonathan Swift’s The Art of Walking the Streets of London [1716]). John Gay’s later play, Polly (1729), also functioned as a lesser source. Other major sources—often recycled verbatim—include biblical fragments, Rudyard Kipling’s poetry (e.g., in the “Kanonen” song), and K. L. Ammer’s German translations of the fifteenth-century French poet François Villon’s ballads (e.g., “The Epitath Ballad”). The latter led to a court case, in which Brecht agreed to pay Ammer (pseudonym for Karl Anton Klammer) two per mil of the proceeds of performance rights of the German text. It is indicative of the success of Dreigroschenoper that even with that miniscule stake in the earnings, Klammer managed to buy a vineyard in the Vienna suburb of Grinzing.

Kurt Weill’s music, too, is often considered (though less controversially) to borrow from other composers and traditions. While his signature music is instantly recognizable, he was inspired by a variety of sources, producing an eclectic mixture including not only lyrical music, Anglican hymns, and the German Lieder and Liebeslied traditions (Ferran 13-19), but also the Music Hall tradition, military marches, jazz, and chromatic phrases. Weill’s music also echoes John Christopher Pepusch, the eighteenth-century composer of the original Gay opera, and Richard Wagner’s opera music (Albright).

When it came time to sign the royalties contract, Brecht stipulated that 62.5% of these royalties would go to him as the main author, 25% to Weill as the composer, and 12.5% to Elisabeth Hauptmann as the translator of sources. Although Weill was not satisfied with the deal, being accustomed to a more balanced arrangement, and Hauptmann was by then inured to her supportive role, it seemed unimportant because no one predicted the enormous success and financial gain awaiting the play. The authorship of The Threepenny Opera is certainly highly debatable; the controversial Brecht biographer John Fuegi attributes less than 20% to Brecht. The fact remains that Brecht had both a remarkable magnetic attraction and an unmatched capacity to surround himself with talented people in his writing studio and in the rehearsal hall. Brecht sustained these artists by his writing and ideas, and they clearly sustained him. It was often a conflictual and self-serving dynamic, but also part of a creative, influential ecology. Fuegi sums it up aptly: “It is what Weill, Hauptmann, and Brecht achieved together that lifts the work to a virtually mythic level and accounts [. . .] for its enduring and deserved success” (Brecht 206).

The original Schiffbauerdamm production ran for over two years in Berlin, after which Brecht and Weill were approached to allow a film version of the play. This was eventually directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and released in February 1931 after intense legal quibbles about rights and control. The film, one of the first musical films ever made, was released in both an original English and French version, filmed alternately on the same set with different actors. Pabst’s film versions, together with a couple of public court cases about rights and control, contributed to the popularity of the play, in Germany as well as in the rest of Europe. Brecht’s subsequent novel, Dreigroschenroman (1934), translated into English as A Penny for the Poor (1937) by Desmond Vesey and Christopher Isherwood, also became part of the hype surrounding the play.

Meanwhile, within weeks of opening night, theatres across Europe were battling each other for the performance rights. Within the twelve months following the premiere, Threepenny Opera was performed 4,200 times in 120 different productions. Within three years it was translated into eighteen languages and performed over 10,000 times, making it, without a doubt, Germany’s most popular theatre script. Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill were now famous. Noteworthy is the fact that Brecht, though elated by the financial yield, was not impressed with the popularity of his play because, in his opinion, people responded mostly to the sentimentality of the story and the seductive musicality. In a 1930 rewrite, he converted Macheath’s den of thieves into corporate bank surroundings, introducing clearer communist-inspired ideology. By then, however, the rift between Brecht and Weill had grown too deep and the latter responded that he had little enthusiasm to put the Communist Manifesto to music.

Already in 1930, Alexander Tairoff directed the play at the Moscow Kamerny Theatre in a Russian translation. In the same year, a French version was staged at the Théâtre Montparnasse and a Czech production at the Divadlo na Vinobradych in Prague resulted in the music becoming hugely popular in Czechoslovakia. In 1934, it was reproduced in Prague’s D34 theatre as an anti-fascist avant-garde play, directed by Emil Burian. Ernst Aufricht produced a French creation during the Paris World Expo in 1937, with Yvette Guilbert in the role of Mrs. Peachum, for which Brecht came out of exile from Denmark. A memorable production is Giorgio Strehler’s at Milan’s Piccolo Theatre in 1956, which Brecht saw during rehearsals a few months before his death. In a letter he favored Strehler’s approach: “This production distinguishes itself from many others I have seen by its fire and its coolness, its spontaneity and its accuracy. They affected a veritable rebirth of the piece” (qtd. in Böhme-Kuby 228). After this rather ultra-orthodox production in the tradition of Verfremdungstheater, Strehler directed it twice more: in Milan and subsequently in Paris. In his second staging in 1973 in Milan, he broke from the tenets of epic theatre and applied the skills he had acquired in his numerous Goldoni stagings to produce a four-hour spectacle that included gymnastics, parody, comedy, opera, and all kinds of histrionics. The production clearly went against Brecht’s criticism of the so-called culinary theatre of sensual entertainment; Strehler parodied Brecht as much as he parodied his own Goldoni stagings. It was also completely anachronistic. Brown is greeted in Macheath’s stable by the thieves with a Hitler salute, while the Peachums rave about the stage like a pair of clowns. Most memorable was Tiger Brown, who acquired tiger-like characteristics in his dealings with Macheath, but, toward the end, is reduced to a little meowing pussycat. Needless to say, the Milan audience was won over for Brecht.

While Threepenny triumphed on the European stage with unprecedented success, it was received rather differently in English-speaking countries. An early 1933 Broadway production, translated by Gifford Cochran and Jerrold Krimsky, earned a tepid reception and disappeared after only twelve performances. It was not until 1954, with the new Marc Blitzstein translation, that the European success was mirrored in the U.S. and U.K. In the end the New York Theater de Lys production, starring Lotte Lenya, would run for over 2,700 performances, spread over seven years. Blitzstein’s translation also ran at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1956, directed by Sam Wannamaker and designed by Caspar Neher.

The Threepenny Opera remains a popular and lucrative title for the stage. The website lists an ongoing calendar of productions in various languages all over the world. Several translators have had their turn on the script. For English translations, these include, apart from Cochran and Krimsky (1933) and Blitzstein (1956), also Desmond Vesey with Eric Bentley (1964), Hugh MacDiarmid (1973), Ralph Mannheim collaborating with Brecht scholar John Willett (1976), Robert David MacDonald and Jeremy Sams (1986), and Michael Feingold (1989). Wallace Shawn produced an adaptation under the same title in 2006, and playwright Raimondo Cortese worked with J. Sams’s lyrics for a 2011 Australian version of the play in Sydney. Most recently, British playwright Simon Stephens generated a new translation for the National Theatre’s grand 2016 production, directed by Rufus Norris.

While few scripts have such a diverse, successful, and global production lineage, relatively little research has been carried out on the history of the play’s production and reception. Stephen Hinton offers a fragmentary overview of its production history in his 1990 book chapter “The Premiere and After” in Kurt Weill: The Threepenny Opera. The script has also been subject to hundreds of free adaptations and translations that have competed with the original. Celebrated directors, star actors, and singers, as well as conservatories and university theatres, continue to take it on to this day. Pop singer Sting starred in a 1989 Broadway production of the Feingold translation, 3 Penny Opera. Two adaptations are particularly significant. Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka’s farcical Opera Wonyosi premiered in 1977 at the University of Ife and created a political ripple in the community (Crow 201). Set in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, the Nobel Prize laureate presents a satirical critique of Nigeria’s oil fiefs and Africa’s corrupt leadership, with the imperial Bokassa I as the most outlandish of rulers. Love, Crime, and Johannesburg was produced in 1999 by the Junction Avenue Theatre Company of Johannesburg, co-written by Malcolm Purkey and Carol Steinberg. The satire dissects “the ironic complexities of power in the new, post-Apartheid South Africa […] in an irreverently playful and celebratory mode” (Crow 202).

Directors approach the script with a variety of dispositions, often tinkering with the historical setting. One noteworthy production was by renowned theatre director Robert Wilson for the Berliner Ensemble in 2007, on the site of the play’s original staging. He presented an extremely sober set and light design that played with black-and-white contrasts, echoed in the costume design by Jacques Reynaud. The meticulously choreographed production, with its back-lit scenes, made a chilly impression on the audience. Most recently, celebrated Chilean-Portuguese-German director Antú Romero Nunes directed a successful production for Hamburg’s Thalia Theater in 2016. In his mise en scène the actors are rehearsing a script. This original approach resulted in a double-layered performance text with continuous parodic commentary on the theoretical underpinnings of epic theatre on one hand, and a cat-and-mouse game with the political relevancy of the original thieves’ story on the other.

Singers—popular and classically trained alike—have tapped the songs for their own routines. The hit song “Mack the Knife” has been rendered famously by the German tenor René Kollo, and cabaret performer Max Raabe, but also Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Elia Fitzgerald, Michael Bublé, and many others have coasted on the music’s popularity. The Threepenny Opera belongs to a chameleon genre between theatre, opera, musical, and cabaret. It allows artists to respond with tremendous freedom and creativity and, similarly, audiences continue to embrace the music and its delightfully malicious characters.

Works Cited

Albright, Daniel. “The Diabolical Senta.” The Opera Quarterly 21.3 (Summer 2005): 465-85.
Becker, Florian Nikolas. “Capitalism and Crime: Brechtian Economies in The Threepenny Opera and Love, Crime, and Johannesburg.” Modern Drama 53.2 (Summer 2010): 159-86.
Benjamin, Walter. “Brecht’s Threepenny Novel.” Understanding Brecht. Trans. Anna Bostock. London: Verso, 1998: 75-84.
Böhme-Kuby, Susanna. “Brecht in Italy: Aspects of Reception.” Modern Drama 42.2 (Summer 1999): 223-33.
Brecht, Bertolt. Stücke 2. Ed. Werner Hecht, et al. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1988.
Crow, Brian. “African Brecht.” Research in African Literatures 40.2 (Spring 2009): 190-207.
Ferran, Peter W. “The Threepenny Songs. Cabaret and the Lyrical gestus.” Theater 30.3 (Fall 2000): 5-21.
Fuegi, John. Brecht & Company. Sex, Politics and the Making of the Modern Drama. New York: Grove Press, 2002.
---. “The Zelda Syndrome: Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann.” The Cambridge Companion to Brecht. Ed. Peter Thomson and Glendyr Sacks. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994: 104-15.
Giles, Steve. Bertolt Brecht and Critical Theory: Marxism, Modernity and the Threepenny Lawsuit. Bern: Peter Lang, 1997.
Glahn, Philip. Bertolt Brecht. London: Reaktion Books, 2014.
Hinton, Stephen. “The Premiere and After.” Kurt Weill: The Threepenny Opera. Ed. Stephen Hinton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990: 50-77.
Katz, Pamela. The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink. New York: Talese, 2015.
McNeff, Stephen. “The Threepenny Opera.” The Cambridge Companion to Brecht. Ed. Peter Thomson and Glendyr Sacks. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994: 56-67.
Moshinsky, Elijah. “Brecht and the Weimar Republic.” Melbourne Historical Journal 8 (1969): 35-42. Web. 17 July 2016.
Soyinka, Wole. Opera Wonyosi. Soyinka: Six Plays. London: Methuen, 1984.
Swales, Martin, and Erika Swales. “Metonymic Cohabitation: On Women Figures in Brecht.” German Life & Letters 53.3 (2000): 387-393.
“The 3Penny Opera.” Caramax Studio for the Kurt Weill Foundation, 2016. Accessed 10 September 2016. .

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Citation: Defraeye, Piet. "Die Dreigroschenoper". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 November 2016 [, accessed 30 September 2023.]

12223 Die Dreigroschenoper 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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