In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

“Mackie” Goes Wild: “Mack the Knife" Part II

Mar 16, 2018 11:47:12 AM
By John Conklin

As one fishes in the sometimes murky, sometimes surprisingly lucid backwaters and hidden streams of YouTube, one can hook some very odd items.

We have looked at and listened to some relatively straightforward renditions of the insidiously persuasive strains of “Mackie Messer,” or “Mack the Knife.” Here are some others. It is always interesting when listening to the seductive melody and its application in a myriad of contexts to remember what this brutal and cruel song is really about: murder, arson, rape …

The smiling heart of Broadway:




Quasi-quasi-classical (but pure camp):


Ann-Margaret's expressively inappropriate but oddly charming rendition (a screen test):



On ice (where all good classical music goes to die):



At a kiddy dance concert (where, after a painful death, classical music finds itself in Hell):


I end with this…WHAT it is, I leave to you…


Hope you enjoy these, and the BLO production of Threepenny.


P.S. Have a Big Mac, on us.

…And always keep your knives out of sight if you want to keep out of trouble…


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John Conklin is the Boston Lyric Opera Artistic Advisor. He has designed sets on and off Broadway, at the Kennedy Center, and for opera companies around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Bastille Opera in Paris, The Royal Opera and the opera houses of Munich, Amsterdam, and Bologna, among others. Locally, his work has been seen in Boston Lyric Opera’s recent productions of The Rake’s Progress (2017), The Marriage of Figaro (2017), The Merry Widow (2016), Werther (2016), La Bohème (2015), and I Puritani (2014), as well as at the American Repertory Theater and Boston Ballet. Additionally, Mr. Conklin develops lecture series and community events for BLO that enrich the audience experience and strengthen the presence of opera in Boston’s arts community. He is on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and was a recipient of the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.

Topics: 2017/18 Season, #ThreepennyBLO, Brecht, Weill

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