This recording of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's Die Dreigroschenoper (known in English as The Threepenny Opera) was recorded in Berlin in November 1988, not long after the work's 60th anniversary, by the RIAS Berlin Sinfonietta and Kammerchor conducted by John Mauceri and features René Kollo as Macheath, Mario Adorf as Peachum, Helga Dernesch as Frau Peachum, Ute Lemper as Polly Peachum, Milva as Jenny, Wolfgang Reichmann as Tiger Brown, Susanne Tremper as Lucy, and Rolf Boysen as the street singer; it was originally released in 1990 and reissued in the U.S. in early 2000 to mark the Weill centenary. In his book The Blackwell Guide to the Musical Theatre on Record (London: Blackwell Reference, 1990), Kurt Gänzl calls all existing original-language recordings of Die Dreigroschenoper "somewhat disappointing," finding many of them poorly sung and mannered. It's a shame he didn't get a chance to listen to this album before his deadline, since it might have changed his opinion. Mauceri, who has devoted his career to restoring vintage works, conducts an effective small orchestra of reeds and horns, and the cast turns in an accomplished performance of what is very nearly the complete work, with dialogue excerpts. The constant question of which female singer gets to sing "Seeräuber-Jenny" ("Pirate Jenny") has been resolved by having both Lemper and Milva sing it in separate acts. This has proven to be a good decision since, despite Milva's excellent performance, Lemper, who was 25 when this recording was made, has come to be recognized as a major Weill interpreter, and her realizations of "Seeräuber-Jenny" and "Barbara-Song" on this recording had a lot to do with that. (She went on to record two albums devoted to Weill.) But she is only the best of a very strong cast that marks this as the most impressive German-language recording of Die Dreigroschenoper.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann