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From 1931, a Vintage 'Threepenny' on DVD

The Threepenny Opera revolutionized musical theater. Playwright and lyricist Bertolt Brecht, composer Kurt Weill and actress Lotte Lenya created a sensation when their show opened in Berlin in 1928.

Two years later, the great German director G.W. Pabst turned it into a movie, and it's just been released as a Criterion Collection DVD.

Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz says that works as diverse as Alban Berg's Lulu and Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd would be inconceivable without Threepenny, which revolves around the adventures of the notorious Mackie Messer — a London underworld figure otherwise known as "Mack the Knife."

Copyright 2022 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Lloyd Schwartz is the classical music critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

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