Satirical Opera: The Beggar’s Opera by Abraham Rattner and The Threepenny Opera by Jack Levine

On view October 2 – December 30, 2016

Rattner Satirical Opera

Featuring two portfolios by two accomplished printmakers, Abraham Rattner’s The Beggar’s Opera and Jack Levine’s The Threepenny Opera finely illustrate two related tales of corruption and injustice separated by 200 years. The life of the social underdog resonates in Rattner’s and Levine’s work as the drama unfolds through each artist’s interpretation and energetic drawing style, which is captured through lithography and soft ground etching techniques.

The Beggar’s Opera was the first ballad opera, written in 1728 by John Gay for the London Stage. The ballad opera is a musical play that includes elements of formal opera that employs satire to denounce politics, poverty and injustice.

The Threepenny Opera is an adaptation of The Beggar’s Opera and a reflection of the political climate in Germany between the World Wars, was written by Bertolt Brecht and composer Weill in 1928. One of the opera’s compositions, The Ballad of Mack the Knife, has been recorded by a number of artists include Bobby Darin, whose version became a number-one hit in 1959.


Abraham Rattner (American, 1893-1978), And the shark he has teeth…” from the Beggar’s Opera, 1971
Lithograph on Arches paper, On loan from SPC Foundation, LRMA 1997.1.4.4-.17