Weill: Die Dreigroschenoper
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The Threepenny Opera is Kurt Weill's most popular work. Its signature song, "Mack the Knife," is a cultural artifact, sung and played in virtually all musical genres. Many of us are permanently imprinted with Lotte Lenya's Sony recording of the opera, so redolent of the decadent, world-weary spirit of the Weimar Republic. This new recording misses some of that spirit but has other, compensating virtues. One is the restoration of the original score in the new Kurt Weill Edition that uses the original instrumentation, adds or deletes numbers, and includes Bertolt Brecht's plot summaries prepared for a 1940 concert version. Other pluses include Max Raabe's oddly sympathetic Macheath and H.K. Gruber's Mr. Peachum, both well-sung characterizations, and Ensemble Modern's virtuoso performance, full of drive and enthusiasm. The sound is wide-ranging and impactful. With one exception, the rest of the cast ranges from good to acceptable. But punk rocker Nina Hagen's Mrs. Peachum is truly awful, with cackles and shrieks galore--a monumental piece of miscasting. So while this recording cannot displace the Lenya version, it's a welcome supplement, adding new dimensions to a familiar and beloved work. --Dan Davis
Top Customer Reviews
What keeps me from rating this performance 5 stars lie in the area of overall aesthetic intention. Although I hearily enjoyed this performance, I am haunted by the prospect of radically objectivist customers condemning the recording on the grounds that Brecht and Weill didn't intend to generate a "realistic" (therefore, illusionist) portrayal of these ruthless characters. It is obvious, that this performance relishes in dramatic/realistic vocalises and in some cases (especially, in the Wedding Song) seem to joyfully engage in some character editorializing, hardly adhering the prevailing practice of letting the words and the irony speak for itself. By the end of the opera, one can almost "feel" MacHeath's feigned regret and obvious rage during his trial and conviction ('Blasphemy! ' I hear the purists).
Personally, I admire the general pseudo-realism (and I am currently looking for a good English version of this fine work), but all in all, the licenses taken by Gruber, Hagen, et al. may be somewhat offensive to the average objectivist Brecht/early Weill syncophant.
Most recent customer reviews
First of all I'd like to comment on Dan Davis' remark about Nina Hagen. Calling her a 'punk rocker' is like calling Cher a 'TV star'. Read morePublished on May 18 2002 by Charlie Badders
Actually--and contrary to the reviewer above--I found this a throrougly decadent version of this seminal work. Read morePublished on March 1 2002