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The Threepenny Opera

The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre opens up their 21st season with Brecht’s and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera. As part of their performance season, The CROT will present a sneak peek in Iowa Public Radio’s Cedar Falls studios! The CROT’s cast features Jessica Pray, Thaddeus Ennen, Ashley Armstrong, Matt Chastain, Stephanie Johnson, Anna Valcour, Evan Dunn, Sarah Mikulski, Bryce Genovese, with Pedro Yanez at the keyboard. The vocalists will treat us to an hour of operatic hits as well as several Threepenny favorites.

Join us for the CROT’s live appearance in Iowa Public Radio’s Cedar Falls studios on Tuesday, January 8th at noon!

Daniel Kleinknecht, founder and artistic director of the Cedar Rapids Opera Theater, along with the cast, will discuss the satirical plot and gritty music of The Threepenny Opera.

Written by two German artists, The Threepenny Opera is known as “an opera for beggars.” Brecht’s and Weill’s opera “follows the story of beggars and criminals who fight for love and freedom in London society.” The opera features themes of homelessness, racial strife, and inequality that are as relevant today as they were in pre-Nazi Germany. In 1928, a young Bertolt Brecht, his friend composer Kurt Weill, and Brecht’s partner Elizabeth Haupmann created The Threepenny Opera to make a quick buck. As German leftists, the trio disdained commercial “bourgeois” theater, with Brecht famously referring to it as “a branch of the narcotics business.” They countered with The Threepenny Opera, which they called an “opera of poverty.”

Initially, the ‘play with music’ was a disaster; deadlines came and went, budgets were blown, rehearsals were missed, and lines were dropped. Famously, on opening night the lead singer demanded that Weill write him a song to showcase the singer’s talents. The resulting “Ballad of Mack the Knife” opens the production, and is still popular today.

Tune in to IPR Classical on Tuesday, January 8th at noon to hear a sampling of this essential 20th century neo-musical theatre piece.

You can also go to Cedar Rapids and enjoy the talent and hard work of these young artists who are launching their careers. The full show will be performed at the CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids on January 10-13. To purchase tickets, visit www.legionarts.org or call 319-364-1580. See the CROT’s website at www.cr-opera.org for more information.

Listen to the second half of the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre's performance in our Cedar Falls Studios here.

Jacqueline Halbloom is a Sr. Music Producer and Classical Music Host