Weill’s timeless Threepenny Opera opens Aug. 3 at UNT
What: Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera presented by the University of North Texas Summer Opera Workshop. Stephen Dubberly, conductor. Elizabeth King, director.
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 3 and 4 (Friday and Saturday) and 3 p.m. Aug. 5 (Sunday)
Where: Lyric Theater, Murchison Performing Arts Center, located along the north side of Interstate 35E at North Texas Boulevard
Contact: 940-369-7802 or www.theMPAC.com
The Murchison box office will be open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily July 30 through Aug. 3 and one hour prior to each performance.
DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Decades after its opening in 1928, the biting tale of corruption and greed in composer Kurt Weill and playwright Bertolt Brecht’s satirical Threepenny Opera still resonates with audiences.
In this darkly funny production from the University of North Texas College of Music’s opera program, innocent Polly Peachum marries the criminal Macheath – much to the disapproval of Polly’s similarly corrupt father, who controls the beggars of London. Thieves, prostitutes and a corrupt police chief run wild.
“Brecht and Weill adapted an 18th-century English story, John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, to the particular circumstances of the Weimar Republic in the late 1920s, and it has a particular bite that is not dated at all,” said conductor Stephen Dubberly, associate professor in the College of Music. “It’s incredibly relevant today.”
The UNT College of Music will present the timeless tale of The Threepenny Opera -- in collaboration with students from the Department of Dance and Theatre -- at 8 p.m. Aug. 3 and 4 (Friday and Saturday) and 3 p.m. Aug. 5 (Sunday). All performances will take place in the Lyric Theater in the Murchison Performing Arts Center, located along the north side of Interstate 35E at North Texas Boulevard. Tickets are $10. For ticket information, call 940-369-7802 or visit www.theMPAC.com.
The production features such well-known tunes as Mack the Knife, which has been performed by artists Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin and more.
“The music is incredibly fresh and timeless and in a style that is very easy for contemporary audiences to understand,” Dubberly said.
“The whole point of The Threepenny Opera is to poke fun at some of the conventions of opera as stuffy,” Dubberly said. “This is opera for the working class -- opera that anyone could understand. There is an immediacy of communication that is required, and that is a wonderful challenge for our students.”
Second-year music student Martin Clark, a 2011 graduate of Texas Early College High School in Marshall, said he’s polishing his acting chops in the role of the sinister Macheath in The Threepenny Opera – which requires more spoken dialogue than most operas.
“This has given me a different look at opera as far as acting,” Clark said. “It’s made me come out of my shell.”
The musical theater style of The Threepenny Opera presents a fresh challenge for classically trained opera singers, said music doctoral student Meng-Jung Tsai from Taipei, Taiwan, who plays the role of Polly.
“I’ve been trained to sing classically, but classical music is usually very melodious,” she said. “This music is very speech-like and very fast.”
The summer opera workshop productions – which use minimal sets and costumes – serve as intensive training opportunities for the students. Performed in German with English supertitles, UNT’s production of The Threepenny Opera is set in London.
“It’s easy to see how a production that covers working-class criminal elements in London could be incredibly modern and have sort of a punk character to it,” Dubberly said. “We will not be using 18th-century costumes, for example. The costumes suggest character rather than period. It will be a very clever take on the story.”