April 9, 2014

"No pre-'Oklahoma!' musical has had a more enduring stage life..."

"... proof that American theatergoers like nothing better than to be told what greedy bastards they are."


RecChief said...

the clip of Lotte Lenya on that page was cool.

traditionalguy said...

Three Penney Opera is not about Capitalism. It is about an empty and hopeless culture that finds itself on the edge of crashing into chaos. The message is that to be one of the survivors one must become a ruthless gangster and killer.

The entertainment value is in how various characters face that prospect of destruction with an upbeat attitude.

It sings the songs for Obama's Destruction of the USA.

Peter said...

"While I've never heard a "Threepenny" production that was better sung or played, the rough edges of Weill's score have been blunted in the process," writes Terry Teachout at "http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/"

But all successful revivals of "The Three Penny Opera" do that.

The score can easily be played as a sequence of pleasant tunes, tuneful tunes, which the audience greatly enjoys.

Of course the audience identifies with the downtrodden (how can it not?) yet it's not much interested in the communist dogma encoded in many of the lyrics.

Occasionally "The Three Penny Opera" is performed with those "jagged edges," and a more dialectical reading of the lyrics. One finds small audiences for such performances, mostly truebelievers.

If you want to revive it as a musical then you blunt the "jagged edges"; if you want to revive it as a political message, then you don't. But if you don't, you're audience will only be truebelievers in the political message.

William said...

There's something about bourgeoise capitalism that really gets up the nose of artists and intellectuals. I don't criticize those Brecht/Weil musicals of the twenties. They were truly great. But I note that Nazi Germany and the East German worker's paradise never inspired such high artistry......I think if the artists of the Weimar Republic had treated their government with a bit more respect and affection, they would not have been cursed with the Stasi and the Nazis and all those other idealists who were not corrupted by money and vote pandering like Weimar politicians.

rhhardin said...

The corn isn't as high as an elephant's eye until July 20 in Ohio.

SJ said...

I have never heard of "Three Penny Opera" before this.

But I have heard of "Oklahoma", "Music Man", "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", "The Carousel", and a few other musicals.

Is it Americans in general, or the denizens of culture in New York City?

Robert Cook said...

"It sings the songs for Obama's Destruction of the USA."

As if our swerve onto the road toward ruin and collapse hadn't been taken decades ago. Obama is merely the latest driver: the course was already charted long before he was hired to take over from the last guy, (who had been hired to take over from the guy preceding him, and so on, etc.). When Obama's term of contract is done, someone else will be hired to keep us on our course.

RecChief said...

"But I note that Nazi Germany and the East German worker's paradise never inspired such high artistry"

That's because National Socialist and Soviet socialist architecture and art are meant to make the individual small and exalt the state.

Howard said...


Great point. You are in good company with that view:
entartete Kunst

Taking your view to it's logical conclusion, we should thank god for black lynching medicine and created the Blues so Eric Clapton could get rich.

Sometimes it backfires. Like when the crack epidemic led to rap music and big bucks for thugs. Sometimes the right invisible hand doesn't know what the left one is doing.

David said...

Interesting column. He's shamelessly showing off, but he has a lot to show.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

Anyone for picking nits? Timebombs don't have a "pin." Grenades have pins. Where are the editors?

Mitch H. said...

Oh, talking about Threepenny Opera. I was trying to figure out what was so cynical and vitriolic about Oklahoma!

William said...

@Howard: You miss my point completely. Where was the degenerate art that ridiculed the Nazis and the Communists? The Brecht/Weill musicals were subversive of the bourgeoise values of the Weimar Republic. Net/net, their work was supportive of Hitler's rise.......There were widespread protests in Europe and Americs against the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. Lots of plays and operas about their plight. The death of millions of Soviet peasants during this time frame passed unnoticed by the artists and intellectuals of that era.

Joe said...

Funny how intellectuals see a few dozen people attending a play, movie, musical, poetry reading and leap to the conclusion that it's popular.

Then again, how many intellectuals realize that few people give a shit what they think? And how irrelevant their rantings are.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Any pre-Oklahoma musical is superior to any post-Oklahoma musical. The garbage that passes for songs since the 60s is amazing. How many of them have entered the Great American Songbook? A half-dozen in 50 years?