Maybe you’ve snickered while watching an opera — the plaintive arias, the drawn-out deaths and the intricacy of the singing. The University of North Texas Opera Theatre’s current production avoids much of the pomp.
Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera is an opera for the Everyman, said conductor and musical director Stephen Dubberly.
“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. 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.”
Dubberly isn’t taking shots at the working class. He’s explaining why 21st-century audiences — with elections bought and sold, birth certificates and tax records in the shadows — will find much to enjoy in the summer opera.
Threepenny Opera is about corruption, greed and the fallout from both. 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.
Weill and Brecht adapted Englishman John Gay’s 18th-century The Beggar’s Opera to the 1920s Weimar Republic.
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.
Performances will be at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Lyric Theater in the Murchison Performing Arts Center, on the north side of Interstate 35E at North Texas Boulevard. Tickets cost $10. For ticket information, call 940-369-7802 or visit www.thempac.com .
— Staff report