Synopsis: Die Dreigroschenoper

The Threepenny Opera - L'Opéra de quat' sous - L'Opera da tre soldi
von Kurt Weill

London, Soho. In the Prologue, the Streetsinger respectfully recalls Macheath’s crimes in the “Ballad of Mack the Knife”.

The opera begins with Mr and Mrs Peachum standing before their mob of thieves and evil-doers. They are alarmed to notice that their daughter, Polly, is missing, and horrified to be told she has eloped with Macheath (Mack), whom they regard as an unsuitable son-in-law. Mack and Polly celebrate their wedding !n a stable. Among the guests is Mack’s old school-friend, the police chief Tiger Brown, who, after reminiscing about their days in the army together, wishes him well. Polly returns to her parents and attempts to explain away the ring on her finger, but they are not going to accept Mack as a son-in-law and determine to persuade Brown to arrest the miscreant.

Back at the stable Mack and Polly say goodbye: Mack has business to attend to. Meanwhile, Mrs Peachum bribes the prostitute Jenny to betray Mack to the police. Mack is duly arrested and sent to the Old Bailey; after singing “The Ballad of the Good Life”, he is helped to escape by Brown's daughter Lucy.

Peachum threatens Brown that, if Mack remains at large, his band of criminals will disrupt the imminent coronation. Brown has his old friend rearrested and returned to the Old Bailey. Polly fails to provide the necessary bribe to have her husband released, and so Mack is executed. However, Peachum has thought of a different conclusion to the story: in honour of her coronation, the queen has decided to grant Mack absolution, a peerage, a castle and a pension. The chorus ends the opera with the refra|n “Don’t prosecute crime: it will die out of its own accord.”