Mack the Knife (Moritat) ๐Ÿ”ช

โ€œThe Threepenny Operaโ€ (โ€œDie Dreigroschenoperโ€) is a “play with music” by Bertolt Brecht, adapted from a translation of John Gay‘s 18th-century English ballad opera, โ€œThe Beggar’s Operaโ€, with music by Kurt Weill.
Brecht did far more than just translate Gayโ€™s play, he reworked it to reflect the decadence of his period and of the Weimar republic. The piece combined musical and biting satire against the capitalist world, the corruption of the German government and its supporters.
Weill wrote or adapted the music replacing Gayโ€™s eighteenth-century ballads with contemporary trends like tango and foxtrot

The play premiered on 31 August 1928 in Berlin and was really successful because of its bizarre cast of characters and its sharp social critique. Later, in 1933, it was banned by the Nazis, who outlawed any publications by its authors.

The work’s opening and closing lament is “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” (the lyrics can be found here).
A โ€˜moritatโ€™ (from “mord” meaning murder and “tat” meaning deed) is a kind of medieval ballad, traditionally sung by travelling minstrels, which tells the crimes of notorious murderers.
The song was a last-minute addition to please tenor Harald Paulson, who played Mackie and had threatened to leave if his character did not receive an important introduction.
However, the โ€˜moritatโ€™ was not performed by him, but by the ballad singer, to introduce Mackie Messer, or Mack the Knife (Messer is German for knife) a character based on Gayโ€™s Macheath.

Brecht-Weill version of this character was far more cruel and sinister than Gayโ€™s.
The moritat singer compares him to a shark with the difference that this predator fish brandishes its weapon in plain sight, while Mack keeps his knife well hidden. The song cheerfully announces that Mack the Knife is on his way to town, because a lot of murders have started happening again: there are untraceable dead bodies floating up the river, blood on the sidewalks, as well as the disappearance of rich people and their cash.

In the original John Gay’s Opera (written exactly two hundred years earlier, in 1728) the character of Macheath was based on the exploits of a real person: Jack Sheppard (1702 โ€“1724) He was an English thief and jail-breaker operating in London in the 1720s, almost a folk hero renowned for his attempts to escape from the prisons where he was jailed for his crimes.

Mackie might be another Jack : ‘Jack The Ripper the serial killer who terrorized London’s East End between 1888 and 1891, and brutally murdered five prostitutes.

64 thoughts on “Mack the Knife (Moritat) ๐Ÿ”ช

  1. Fantastica anzi, spettacolare interpretazione di Robbie Williams. Grazie per la scelta e condivisione che anche oggi ci hai proposto ๐Ÿ˜˜. Buon proseguimento di pomeriggio ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have always liked Bert Brecht’s “Dreigroschenoper”, Luisa, and I find it interesting that you have written a post about it.

    The German Communist author became world famous with this satiric work, depicting the decadence of society in the Weimar Republic, as you wrote.

    He was very popular in the Soviet Union as well, since he applauded Josef Stalin. From Brecht’s point of view, the Soviet Union under Stalin’s leadership was the only effective force to fight down German fascism under Hitler.

    And he was right, the Soviet Union under Generalissimo Stalin was the great victor, marching into Berlin, where Hitler committed suicide in his bunker. Others say that Hitler fled to Argentina, but there is no proof for it.

    Thank you for this interesting post about Bert Brecht, Luisa.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. PS

    I always try to write something meaningful and pertaining to the post of the blog owner, when I send a comment. It proves that we are thoughtful beings and not analphabets.

    I always wonder how some people keep sending others just little emoticons, little hearts, stars, teddybears and the like. For me, this is not really a conversation.

    Isn’t this kindergarden level? I wonder. Or am I too serious?

    I do not except that emoticon ping pong any more on my blog. I find it rediculous and degading.

    Have a pleasant evening, Luisa.

    Liked by 2 people

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