This opera calls itself a beggar’s opera, as it was inspired by a ballad opera by John
Gay, The Beggar’s Opera, an exquisite parody of Händel’s operas. To its creators Kurt
Weill and the playwright Bertolt Brecht, this contemporary musical work is as much
of a satire of both traditional opera and operetta as it is an attempt at creating a new
kind of musical theatre.
The opera is set in Victorian-era London. The protagonist Macheath, a criminal,
marries Polly Peachum, whose father is a leader and organizer of all the beggars
who trade and beg on the streets of London. His daughter’s choice of husband comes
as an unwelcome surprise to Peachum, so he tries to have Macheath arrested and
hanged. His efforts are obstructed by the chief of police, Tiger Brown, who is a
childhood friend of Macheath’s. Just when it seems that Peachum will succeed in his
plan, right before the hanging, Brecht introduces the queen’s messenger on a horse,
who pardons Macheath and pronounces him a baron, all in the style of a parody
with a happy ending.
The Threepenny Opera was first performed in Berlin on the 31st of August 1928,
and by 1933 – when its creators were forced to escape Nazi Germany – it had been
translated into 18 languages and performed over 10,000 times on stages around
Europe. To this day the work has not lost its relevance.
Ivan Josip Skender began his musical education in his hometown of
Varaždin, with teachers Desa Jovanović and Marijan Zuber, and started composing in
secondary school for music with Davor Bobić as his mentor. In 1997 he began his studies in
composition at the Academy of Music at the University of Zagreb under Željko Brkanović,
where he was the youngest composition student in the history of that institution. Two years
later he enrolled in the conducting program led by maestro Vjekoslav Šutej. He has contin-
ued his training, participating in seminars and workshops in conducting and choral con-
ducting (instructors: Klaus Arp, Krešimir Šipuš, Saša Britvić), and composition (Michael
Jarrell, Goce Kolarovski, Joszef Soproni). His compositions have been performed in Croatia,
Austria, Slovenia, Germany, Poland, Macedonia, USA, Canada and Mexico.
Pascal Rambert, born in 1962, is a French playwright, director and
choreographer. He has been the director of Théâtre de Gennevilliers (T2G) since 2007,
which he made into the national centre for contemporary dramatic creation, and is
currently a place that produces the works of living artists exclusively (theatre, dance,
opera, contemporary art, film and philosophy). His theatrical and dance creations are
performed on stages throughout Europe, North America, and Asia.