The Threepenny Opera Characters

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Ballad Singer

The unnamed Ballad Singer serves as a kind of' Greek chorus, commenting and explaining the play's action as it unfolds. He opens the story with a grotesquely playful tale of Mac the Knife, an actual historical character who murdered prostitutes in London. Although John Gay's Beggar's Opera (the source material for Brecht's work) included ballads about the thieves in his dramatic world, the songs were not as outrageous as those sung by Brecht's narrator—a credit to the musical talents of Brecht and his composer, Kurt Weil. Throughout The Threepenny Opera, the Ballad Singer punctuates the action with distastefully mordant commentaries on the seamy action of the play, sung to a discordant tune. He sings the play's best-known musical number "Moritat" (or "Theme from the Threepenny Opera")—more commonly known as "Mac the Knife"—which was popularized by singer Bobby Damn in 1959.

Lucy Brown

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This section contains 1,205 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Threepenny Opera Study Guide
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Drama for Students
The Threepenny Opera from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.