http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/3_groschen_oper_574.jpg
%%[[caption-width:300:some caption text]]

-> ''You're about to hear an opera for beggars. And because this opera was created so glamorously, the way only beggars can dream something up, and because it should still be so cheap that only beggars would pay for it, it's called ''The Threepenny Opera''.''

''Die Dreigroschenoper'' is Creator/BertoltBrecht and Music/KurtWeill's DarkerAndEdgier adaptation of John Gay's ''Theatre/TheBeggarsOpera''. Despite the title, [[NonindicativeName it's a musical]].

The play centers around the marriage of Polly Peachum (daughter of "Beggar King" Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum) to notorious gangster, rapist, and aspiring gentleman Macheath (better known as Mack the Knife). Despite his notoriety, Mack has completely outsourced his crimes to his gang, and lives on his reputation alone. He's is best friends with his old army buddy Jack "Tiger" Brown, the London chief of police, whose daughter Lucy he's dating on the side. He's also chummy with his former live-in girlfriend Spelunken-Jenny, a whore he still visits on Thursdays (hey -- a gentleman is entitled to his habits). And he's got great plans: instead of robbing banks and stabbing men, he now wants to ''found'' a bank and ''hire'' men. After all, true grand scale thievery can only be done by the bourgeoisie. Mack is ready to climb out of the criminal slums and into criminal nobility. And Polly is just the right kind of wife to have by his side for it.

The only problem in his plan is Jonathan Peachum, who not only hates Macheath, but will do ''anything'' to get his daughter back -- after all, she's valuable goods, and he's invested a lot of time and money in her proper upbringing. Peachum devises a plan to blackmail Tiger Brown and convince him to arrest Macheath. Since the Queen's coronation is due in a few days, Brown has his hands full trying to keep the beggars off the streets. Which Peachum decides to use to his advantage in blackmailing Brown: imagine thousands of beggars, crawling out of the gutters, crowding around the Queen...

Mack tries to flee, but can't shake his Thursday habit at Jenny's brothel and is consequently arrested by a reluctant Brown. And when Lucy Brown shows up, apparently married to Macheath and pretending to be pregnant, Polly starts to realize that the marriage was a huge mistake.

Things turn out alright for Mack and Polly, though. Just when Mack's about to be hung, Peachum announces that they're going with a different ending: the Queen's Messenger arrives to knight Macheath and grant him and Polly eternal wealth. But as the crowd is cheering, Peachum bitterly steps forward to explain that real life doesn't simply provide happy endings. When criminals become bourgeois and the bourgeoisie becomes criminal, beggars die, the poor are trampled into invisibility, while the rich get richer and attention. Curtain.

The play has been notoriously misinterpreted by audiences worldwide, who consider Macheath the ''good guy''. As a TakeThat, Brecht went on to write the scathingly satirical ''Literature/ThreepennyNovel'' (1934), in which Macheath's popularity [[GodwinsLaw is compared to that of Hitler]] and Polly is madly in love with the idea of a suave, gorgeous Macheath (and sorely disappointed when he turns out to be a old bald bastard).

Theatres also tend to completely ignore Brecht's stage directions: he specifically wrote that Macheath needs to be old and ugly, Polly needs to come off as virtuous and agreeable, Mr. Peachum is not a miser but simply a nihilist, and the Queen's messenger absolutely needs to be on horseback as satire of classic bourgeous opera endings. Instead, Macheath tends to be handsome and young in most productions, Polly is commonly portrayed as a gangster moll, Peachum is portrayed as a miser, and the horse is nowhere to be seen. (Nowadays, even Brecht's own theatre in East Berlin performs the play this way.)

Various movie adaptations have been made, one of which actually involved Brecht, Weill and Lenya (''Dreigroschenfilm'' / ''Threepenny Movie'', 1933). Due to ExecutiveMeddling, however, it was severely {{Bowdlerise}}d.

For a complete German recording of ''all'' of the play's songs, the excellent 1999 all-star [[http://www.amazon.com/Kurt-Weill-Threepenny-Opera/dp/B00001R3MQ Berlin performance]] with Music/NinaHagen is a great place to start.
----
!!Adaptations and re-interpretations by others include:
* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eRI-a9Cv1M ”pera do Malandro]]'' by Chico Buarque.
* ''Imminent, Indeed (or Polly Peachum's Peculiar Penchant for Plosives)'' by Bryn Manion.
* ''Film/{{Dogville}}'', an even DarkerAndEdgier re-telling of "Music/PirateJenny", directly quoting from it.
* ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'', which was hugely influenced by "Music/PirateJenny" and includes its own analysis of Brecht's work.
* ''Film/LeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen: Century 1910''.
* ''The Twopenny Opera (It's One Cheaper)'', a ConceptAlbum by TheTigerLillies.
* ''Theatre/TheThreepennyOpera'' by Music/NickCave, starring Andy Serkis (upcoming).
* Music/TomWaits covered "What Keeps Mankind Alive?" on his album ''Music/OrphansBrawlersBawlersAndBastards''.
----
!! ''The Threepenny Opera'' contains examples of:

* AffablyEvil: Macheath's gang
* TheAlcoholic: Mrs. Peachum.
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Bobby Darrin's cover of Mack the Knife projects this..
-->Sukey Tawdry, Jenny Diver, Polly Peachum, Lucy Brown, ...\\
The line forms on the right, dear, now that Mackie's back in town.
** It's only true of Polly Peachum, the other girls were prostitutes who presumably didn't have a choice in the matter. In her "Barbara Song", Polly Peachum describes how she virtuously turned down all the respectable men who asked for her maidenhead...until a man showed up who was neither respectable nor bothered asking....
* AnachronismStew: The story nominally takes place in 1904. While the "Cannon Song" and its discussion of colonial warfare would seem to place the story in the mid to late 1800s, the coronation the play is centered around is that of Queen Victoria, thus implying an earlier date. Not to mention that the play its adapted from was written and set in the 1700s. Oh, and Macheath in this play tends to dress as a RoaringTwenties gangster.
** The Donmar Warehouse production with Tom Hollander had something of a SettingUpdate with references to onion bhajis and Marks and Spencers in the lyrics.
* BawdySong: "Pirate Jenny" and to a lesser extent "Barbara Song", and "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency" are all in a genre of "cabaret music" sung by women at those clubs; for a different kind of BawdySong, the "Cannon Song" is based on rousing soldier music in the manner of Kipling's "Barrack-Room Ballads" (Brecht was a Kipling fan), and is intended as a {{deconstruction}} of them.
* BettyAndVeronica: Polly and Lucy
* BreakoutPopHit: Mac The Knife. Hilariously so. But thanks to Bowdlerlization
* {{Bowdlerization}}: Most adaptions make the mistake of doing the production like a Broadway Musical, make the characters LighterAndSofter, remove the political and social criticial version and clean up all the song lyrics, in other works make it into a remake of the original ''The Beggar's Opera'' rather than the DarkerAndEdgier version it is.
* CatFight: Between Polly and Lucy in the "Jealousy Duet". Mostly musical in the stage directions, but tends to be "spiced up" in productions, especially the 1960s movie version.
* ConspicuousGloves: As detailed in the opening song "Moritat" ([[CoveredUp better known]] as "Mack the Knife"), the gangster Macheath is identifiable by his signature kid gloves. Besides being stylish they help him avoid blood stains.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Like nearly all Brecht productions, it borrows from earlier plays, namely John Gay's ''The Beggar's Opera'', practically all the characters, the love triangle, the FriendlyEnemy cop is there and even the DeusExMachina ending. Only differences is that Mackie Messer is not the LoveableRogue that the original Macheath is, but a brutal pimp, rapist and child-murderer. The setting-update puts it in context of British Imperialism (via references to Kipling, one of Brecht's favorite writers) and the overall setting is more seedier.
* DeadpanSnarker: The narration of the Threepenny Novel.
* DeusExMachina: At the very end, [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere out of nowhere]], Macheath is saved from the gallows with the information that he's not only pardoned but won a peerage. This was a deliberate parody showing how criminals are spared their fate and recieve unearned rewards in the manner of heroes in the old trope.
* DoNotDoThisCoolThing: [[invoked]] Although the play was intended as a vicious attack on capitalism, it is quite popular with non-communists. Though Brecht intended [[FridgeLogic it for a non-communist audience in any case, since in theory, communists don't need to see a play about how capitalism works]]. More generally, people tended to uncritically glorify Macheath as an AntiHero by neglecting the strong women characters in the play who he subjects to all kinds of abuse and exploitation.
* DomesticAbuse: All the prostitutes are kept in line by this, either from their clients or Mackie.
* EverythingsEvenWorseWithSharks The song compares Mackie to the Shark with Mackie being EvilerThanThou:
--> "Oh the poor shark \\
Yes, the sweet shark \\
It has big teeth, buried deep \\
Then there's Macheath \\
with his big knife \\
Hidden in his sleeve"
* EvilVersusEvil: Macheath versus Peachum; the former tends to get sympathy mostly because of being more charismatic.
* {{Expy}}: Jenny from ''Theatre/TheRiseAndFallOfTheCityOfMahagonny'' would even be considered a straight-up transplant of Spelunken-Jenny, if the stories took place in the same universe. Both parts were originated by Miss Lotte Lenya.
* FanDisservice: The notorious lyric describing Jenny Towler's fate ("There they found her/Knife in Breast") in "Mack the Knife" is meant to invoke this. One of the many {{Bowdlerization}} subjected to it in English translations to make it a Pop Hit.
* HoYay: Mack and Brown. Brecht has admitted that it's on purpose: Brown's love for Macheath is what keeps him going, but it's damaging to his job as a keeper of the peace. [[invoked]]
* HumansAreBastards: "What Keeps Mankind Alive"
* UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper: Not within the play, but in a novel adaptation, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The Threepenny Novel]], Macheath is identified with the Ripper. As a ShoutOut, Macheath also appears in ''Film/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'', and is presented either as a JackTheRipoff, or maybe the ''actual'' Jack the Ripper.
* JoinTheArmyTheySaid: "The Cannon Song"
* KarmaHoudini: Macheath. As mentioned in the summary above, this is a major plot point.
* KavorkaMan: Macheath is an unattractive cutthroat, physically abusive and, as Brecht described him, "bald, old, humorless, with a face like a turnip". Still, women seem to throw themselves at him. Modern ensembles (including Brecht's own ensemble in Berlin) instead cast young and attractive actors for the part.
* KingOfTheHomeless: A brutal deconstruction. Macheath and Peachum function very much like capitalists who exploit prostitutes and beggars by overworking them and exploiting them. Both of them have connections with the law and end up assimilating into bourgeois society.
* KnifeNut: Macheath
* LighterAndSofter: English translations of the ''Moritat'' tend to erase the verses that describe Mack the Knife's more heinous crimes, like child rape and an arson that killed seven children, and even gloss over the celebration of cannibalism in The Canon Song.
* MoodWhiplash: Brecht's alienation-effect was all about creating this effect. The lyrics and the style of music tend to be so-off. Ballad of Mack the Knife is sung by a jolly street-singer who is totally nonchalant about Macheath's crimes. The most shocking is "The Ballad of Immoral Earnings" a jaunty romantic [[AddedAlliterativeAppeal song sung in a swooning style]] that talks about the whorehouse that featured DomesticAbuse and a disgusting back-alley abortion described in visceral detail.
* MurderBallad: "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer", obviously (''Moritat'' is the German word for a Murder Ballad).
* NietzscheWannabe: Mr. Peachum. It's not that he's a miser -- he simply doesn't believe that money or ''anything'' can save him, so he may as well make the best of what little money he's got. It's not that he doesn't like his daughter -- it's just that his opinion of her, just like his opinion on the rest of humanity, is "already at its lowest possible point". And it's not that he particularly likes the Bible -- he just figures he should have it in front of him to remind him of how rotten the world's Christians are.
* NostalgiaFilter: The song "The Ballad of Immoral Earnings" is deliberately sung and set to tune to evoke an Arcadian setting of Good Times. The lyrics nastily subvert it:
--> "And when a client came I'd climb out of our bed\\
And treat him nice, and go and have a drink instead.\\
When he paid up I would address him: "Sir\\
Come any time you feel you fancy her."\\
That time's gone past, but what would I not give\\
To see that whorehouse where we used to live?"
* PirateGirl: Becoming this is part of Jenny's fantasies of revenge on society for her miserable life, about which she sings the song [[Music/PirateJenny "Seeršuber-Jenny"]].
* TheQueensLatin: While productions in translation tend to give the rest of the cast a Cockney accent, which makes sense given the setting, Peachum and sometimes the rest of his family often gets a Scottish accent. This is because one historical stereotype of Scots is that they are Bible-beating misers, which describes the common interpretation of Peachum perfectly.
* SociopathicSoldier: Macheath and Tiger Brown as shown in the "Cannon Song"
--> And when it rained / and we met a new race / a brown one or a pale one / [[ImAHumanitarian maybe we'd use them to make our steak tartare]]!
* SpiritualSuccessor: ''Theatre/TheRiseAndFallOfTheCityOfMahagonny''.
* StylisticSuck: This was a device deliberately used in a lot of Brecht's work to achieve the proper "alienating" effect on the audience, and among other things, he wanted the music discordant and the cast to sing off-key.
* TenorBoy: Macheath is sometimes played like this ironically, and many performances have him singing the "Epitaph" in a sincere tenor, just to accentuate what a two-faced bastard he is.
* VillainProtagonist: Basically everyone but Polly, whom even Brecht the arch-pessimist stressed to be a "virtuous and agreeable girl" in his notes on playing the parts.
* WeirdTradeUnion: Peachum's guild of beggars
----