The names of the dramatis personae will be essentially the same tonight as last night in the Barns of Wolf Trap: Mr. and Mrs. Peachum, their daughter Polly, the highwayman Macheath, Jenny Diver (a prostitute) and Lucy Lockit (a jailkeeper's daughter). The singers in these roles will also be the same: Joseph Myering, Marguerita Kris, Carolene Winter, Christopher Leo King, Mary Pat Finucane and Milagros Williams.
One plot will serve for both evenings: Macheath unwisely marries Polly, whose parents prefer to have her single and . . . well . . . negotiable. So they decide to liberate her and earn a reward by turning Macheath in to the authorities. Captured while visiting Jenny and her colleagues, he is thrown into Newgate Prison, where he runs into Lucy, whom he has "dishonored" and who expects him to make her "an honest woman." A busy fellow, Mack, on his way to the gallows.
Doubly busy. Last night he went through these situations and more in Gay and Pepusch's "The Beggar's Opera" from the 1720s, and tonight he will do it all over again in Kurt Weill's "The Threepenny Opera" from the 1920s -- a matched pair of acid-tipped arrows aimed at the pretensions of opera and of society in general.
"The Beggar's Opera" was a pleasant experience, on the whole, last night. The tunes are popular and folk melodies of the 1720s, graceful and sometimes colorful, wonderfully abundant and blessedly brief. The acting is subprofessional at times, but Dorothy Biondi's stage direction gets the most out of her performers.
Conductor David Abell drew a superbly styled performance from the baroque instrumental ensemble Wondrous Machine, and the principal singers were all in good voice. King has grown remarkably as a singer since winning the Metropolitan Opera auditions here a few years ago. Kris and Myering are adept both as singers and as character actors, and Winter is a lovely young lady with a fine voice.