07 November 2007

Some YouTube Video Takes On "Moeritaet" aka "Mack The Knife" From The Threepenny Opera

Am inspired to do this by a blog post made by my friend Pie, who posted a YouTube video of Bobby Darin singing his 1959 version of the Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill song, "Mack The Knife", or "Mackie Messer" in the original German, from the 1928 opera, "The Threepenny Opera".

That piece was, in turn, inspired by another opera, John Gay's 1767 opus, "The Beggar's Opera", which Brecht roughly adapted and up-dated, to Victorian-era, rather than Georgian-era London, as was the original's setting.

So, in that time-, continent-, and culture-spanning spirit, I present to you for your consideration, the following variations of songs from "Die Dreigroschenoper", or "Threepenny Opera", or whatever other variant name you know it by.

The first's from the 1931 G.W. Pabst German film adaptation, and features Ernst Busch, the great interpreter of much of the work of Brecht and his other, more frequent, musical collaborator, Hans Eisler, and who became of the leading entertainment figures in the German Democratic Republic(GDR, or just plain old East Germany)after World War Two, until his death in 1980, as the Streetsinger in his version of "Moeritaet", aka "Mack The Knife".

Next, from the 1962 West German film version of the "The Threepenny Opera", and specifically, the English-language version of the film, is Sammy Davis Junior doing his take on "Mack The Knife", which musically, as well lyrically, seems to combine elements of both the original "Moeritaet" with the Bobby Darin swing-oriented version of the tune.

Then, also from 1962, we have a television appearance by Mr. Louis Armstrong, who, according to some information I got on a site devoted to the Threepenny Opera(http://www.threepennyopera.org/), was the first American artist to record the swing version of "Mack The Knife", and who was also the first to mention Lotte Lenya, who played Jenny The Pirate in the original Berlin production 30 years earlier in the song, and who was in the recording studio the very day that Armstrong recorded his version of the piece.

From 1965, Miss Ella Fitzgerald does her take on the tune in a London tv appearance, and, as you can hear in the performance, forgets a number of the lyrics while doing it!!!!

Finally, because you and I both have only so much time to devote to this, here's a recent Brazilian version of the tune, in the original German, done by a pair of Brazilian artists, Servio Tulio(vocalist)and Glauco Baptista(piano) at the ARMAZÉM DIGITAL recital hall in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, probably last year.

Ah, wait just one second or two before I let you go, because you should see and hear this little number, "Pirat Jenny" or "Jenny The Pirate" as sung by Miss Lotte Lenya, who was, off-stage, Mrs. Kurt Weill, and the creator of the part in the original 1928 Berlin run of the "Threepenny Opera".

The tune???? Not what you might be expecting, which would be another variant of "Moeritaet" or "Mack The Knife", but a song which made her, and her part, justly famous, "Seerabuenjenny"("Sailor Jenny in English, as least as presented by the person who posted it to YouTube. I don't know for sure).

Listen very carefully to how Lenya uses her voice, especially when she hits the high notes on the refrain about "a ship with eight sails and fifty cannons", and, in the final shot of the clip, when she looks at MacHeath, the camera, and us.

If that doesn't even faze you a little, I'd say ice-water rather than blood flows in your veins.

Be seeing you.

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