Overview[ edit ] Set in Victorian London, the play focuses on Macheath , an amoral, antiheroic criminal. This displeases her father, who controls the beggars of London, and he endeavours to have Macheath hanged. Still, Peachum exerts his influence and eventually gets Macheath arrested and sentenced to hang. Macheath escapes this fate via a deus ex machina moments before the execution when, in an unrestrained parody of a happy ending, a messenger from the Queen arrives to pardon Macheath and grant him the title of Baron. The details of the original text have often been substantially modified in later productions.
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Scott Merrill and Lotte Lenya from the off-Broadway production in Peachum bass baritone , Mrs. Speaking roles -- Filch, the Rev. Kimball, the gang of thieves, beggars, prostitutes, policemen. Orchestra: Reed 1 cl, alto sax , Reed 2 cl, ten. Duration: full evening, 55 minutes music Published editions: vocal selections, Warner Bros. Synopsis Prologue After the overture , the Street Singer comes onstage with a barrel organ and sings of the crimes of the notorious bandit and womanizer Macheath, Mack the Knife " Ballad of Mack the Knife ".
The scene shifts to an empty stable where Macheath is about to marry Polly, as soon as his gang has stolen and brought all the necessary food and furnishings " Wedding Song ". No vows are exchanged, but Polly is satisfied, and everyone sits down to a banquet.
Since none of the gang members can provide fitting entertainment, Polly does it herself " Pirate Jenny ". Everyone else exits and Mack and Polly celebrate their love " Love Song ". Then Polly returns home and defiantly announces her marriage, as her parents urge her to get a divorce and Mrs.
Act II Polly tells Mack that her father will have him arrested. Polly takes over the gang decisively as Mrs. Brown arrives and apologetically arrests Mack, who goes to jail.
Polly arrives, and she and Lucy quarrel " Jealousy Duet ". When Mr. Peachum finds out, he threatens Brown and forces him to send the police after Mack. The action stops for another meditation on the unpleasant human condition " How to Survive ". Peachum refuses to pay. When Brown arrives, determined to arrest Peachum and the beggars, he is horrified to learn that the beggars are already in position and only Mr.
Peachum can stop them " Useless Song ". In the next scene, Mack is back in jail " Call from the Grave ". He begs the gang to raise a sufficient bribe, but they cannot " Call from the Grave" part 2. Then a sudden reversal: A messenger on horseback arrives to announce that Macheath has been pardoned by the Queen and granted a castle and pension " The Mounted Messenger ".
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