Berlin (dpa) – “And the shark, he has teeth …” This line always makes people hum, but it could have been very different. The “Threepenny Opera” with texts by Bertolt Brecht was premiered in 1928.

At the time, many would have thought it would be a big flop, Australian-born opera director Barrie Kosky says today. During the first chaotic, the room was only half full. “It was a real disaster.”

Suddenly it ignited, Kosky says in a Berliner Ensemble music video. And the trigger for this success was the music of Kurt Weill. The songs immediately became hits – pop songs. Almost a century after the premiere, Kosky has now undertaken the three hundred year old opera himself. And it shows a mixture of soap opera and critique of capitalism.

The evening begins with this song line about shark teeth, which not only became the iconic song of the “Threepenny Opera” but also exists in various versions of English jazz (“Oh the shark, baby, has such teeth, my dear .. .”) .

Mackie Messer with a penchant for narcissism

Fortunately, it is not the pop singer Robbie Williams who is on the stage of the Berliner Ensemble, but the actor Nico Holonics. He plays the crook Mackie Messer – a guy who you could say has a penchant for narcissism and who, with his antics, looks like he had coked the night in a Berlin club. Now he wants to marry the beautiful Polly Peachum (Cynthia Micas).

Their parents (Constanze Becker and Tilo Nest) strongly disagree with this. They run an empire of beggars and try to put Mackie in jail and hang her. A game of cat and mouse through a steel maze begins on stage. Holonics claims to have hit his leg a lot while climbing in the background.

Mackie has a thing for prostitutes and all kinds of business. When Polly finally sees him again and hopes for the promised future (including happiness, togetherness, and all the hustle and bustle), he tries to tell her that they never got married at all. You’d think the two were playing a guide to toxic relationships and psychological abuse.

Always up to date today

Friday night’s premiere showed that history still works today. The evening is very entertaining with sparkling garlands, a compelling ensemble and a talented orchestra. And despite the telenovela’s fairly straightforward love story, it also raises some big questions. What is behind the facade? Can a person even be good under bad conditions?

In the program booklet, sociologist Eva Illouz (“Why Love Hurts”) addresses the question of how social order and capitalism affect relationships. Brecht’s characters, Illouz says in the interview, are “immoral thieves” who embodied the fundamental ideology of the capitalists: “Business is all about, which means that any consideration of compassion, philanthropy and altruism is ignored. and mocked ”. In “Threepenny Opera” you meet a lot of classy people who are actually concerned about their benefits. “First food comes, then morality,” he said at one point.

Presentation of the history of the 18th century

18th-century John Gay’s “Beggar’s Opera” served as the model for “Three Hundred Years’ Opera,” as Kosky put it in a video. Elisabeth Hauptmann saw the play and suggested a German version. The premiere took place in the same building that now houses the Berliner Ensemble.

Towards the end of the new staging, a large lettering hovers above the stage. “Love me” – translated as “love me”. There was a lot of applause from the audience for the drama ensemble and the orchestra. For the production team, there is not only a big approval but also a few hoots. You can think of a lot after the party. For example, how does the individual find his place in the world?

“Replaceability and instrumentalisation are the material of which capitalism is made,” said sociologist Illouz. Capitalism exaggerates the idea of ​​the individual. “It makes us unique, inimitable, unique. It makes it harder to maintain love, because to love you need what it takes to build a social community and a society, ”she explains. “We need a common living environment for which we accept to give up our singularity.