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 Three Penny Opera
Author: DrewSorensenMusic 
Date:   2013-01-03 03:55

Starting rehearsals in 4 days time, Reed 1. Listened to a recording on youtube, and I fear I'm going to hate the music. Anyone with experiences on this one?

Drew S.

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 Re: Three Penny Opera
Author: Merlin_Williams 
Date:   2013-01-03 12:57

Threepenny Opera is one of the great shows. The music is very stylized, so let it grow on you.

Are they using the original orchestration?

Jupiter Canada Artist/Clinician
Stratford Shakespeare Festival musician
Woodwind Doubling Channel Creator on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/WoodwindDoubling

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 Re: Three Penny Opera
Author: DrewSorensenMusic 
Date:   2013-01-03 14:09

Definitely different from Music Man and Hello Dolly, not that I haven't played them enough. Very German and the recording I listened to the saxophonist was playing with what I associate as a 20s classical vibrato, wide, quick, and to my ears obnoxious. In my mind I wonder if I should play in the style, or just play it nicely my way. The Reed 2 in more seasoned and associated with the University putting on the show, so I will consult his expertise.

In truth I should probably be learning more about the show, but the musicians hired are as follows:

Reed 1 (Me): Flute, Picc, Clarinet, Soprano, Alto, Bari
Reed 2: Clarinet, Tenor, Soprano, Bassoon
Guitar + doubles

I think that is the original orchestration. We are in the pit (I saw a picture that seemed like the orchestra may play onstage in some productions. I could be wrong). And the Reeds will be setting up behind the brass. I've been used to being to the side of brass. I'm not sure I have too much experience being behind them.

Drew S.

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 Re: Three Penny Opera
Author: Brent 
Date:   2013-01-03 17:30

I've played the show twice, both with the revised scoring. It felt like fully half of the numbers in the book were "Mack the Knife". I understand that is not the case with the original; as i was told, Weill (or whoever arranged that later edition) capitalized on the popularity of the song by using it as often as possible in the show.

In both cases when i played the orchestra was on stage. The first production i played in was my least favorite musical theater experience in 40 years of playing. The show is long, and this production was slow, slow, s--l--o--w. I almost turned down the second production because of that experience.

Fortunately, that production was completely different, and quite enjoyable. Being on stage offers the opportunity to see a lot more of what is going on. Of course, you have to be on your best behavior for all 3 hours of the show...

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 Re: Three Penny Opera
Author: Jaysne 
Date:   2013-01-03 20:01

I haven't played the show, but did see a production of it. I couldn't stand the show. I'd rarely been so bored or unenamoured of a show before.

But I do know that in the past when I've played in a new show, sometimes the first few rehearsals are dreary and I have the same feelings of dismay you do. But gradually the music reveals itself and I end up really enjoying it.

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 Re: Three Penny Opera
Author: DrewSorensenMusic 
Date:   2013-01-04 01:27

The only thing that seems positive to come of this show is learning the history to "Mack the Knife". However, I would have hated to play it ad nauseam.

I did Sweet Charity on stage, and I think that's what got me hooked on musicals. At 20 years old, Seeing girls in fishnets dancing provocatively in front of you while you play music can really jade you. Every subsequent show will just never be as rewarding. Chorus Line and the Drowsy Chaperone were fun though. I liked the music to Les Mis (High School Ed), but it is loooong as well.

Musicals are like golf to me, much more fun to do myself then watch someone else do it. I hope I still have my sanity after this one.

Drew S.

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 Re: Three Penny Opera
Author: davyd 
Date:   2013-01-04 17:38

The full score is published IIRC by Universal. Again IIRC, that's the original scoring, more or less. (The guitar book calls for a lot of doubles. Banjo and dobro are understandable. But cello and accordion?)

I saw a professional production which had a larger orchestra (perhaps the "revised" version that Brent mentions) -- 15 or so players on a platform above the stage, with 10 or so players on another platform some distance away. Somehow they managed to stay together. It was however the original playlist, with Mack The Knife as the opening song and not reprised later.

Weil's writing is a lot closer to guys like Stravinsky and Milhaud than to guys like Rodgers and Kern. The music might well grow on you. How many performances will there be?

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 Re: Three Penny Opera
Author: DrewSorensenMusic 
Date:   2013-01-04 18:13

I agree with you about the writing. If the audience comes to the show thinking Show Tunes, they will be sadly disappointed. In my limited knowledge of classical music, Stravinsky is my favorite composer, and even he writes a nice melody or two in works like Firebird or Rite of Spring. In the last movement of Firebird suite, that horn line is probably the most beautiful piece of writing ever composed.

I am not familiar with Milhaud's works, but will be sure to take some time to peruse them. I feel Threepenny Opera to my ear could be compared maybe to something from Hindemith.

There are 12 shows over 3 weekends, and 6 rehearsals beforehand. I have worked with the MD before, but not the musicians. Luckily for this one, we're using ringers on all the parts. Much more relaxing than having a mixture of students and professionals. There was a problem when this MD asked me to perform Chorus Line at another university. The students weren't getting paid, and when they found out I was, there was some indignation amongst a bitter few. The bass player quit, and the flutist (covering the Reed 1 flute parts cause that's all she played) tried to make a point by calling out late. I guess she didn't realize I sightread well, so I played her part, and her point was lost, much to her displeasure. I found that mentality strange. In college I happily performed free services for the college I attended, to get the experience of performing the shows and performing with talented professionals. I guess I learned a little bit about social dynamics on that one.

Drew S.

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