The work combines comedy and political satire in prose interspersed with songs set to contemporary and traditional English, Irish, Scottish, and French tunes. In it, Gay portrays the lives of a group of thieves and prostitutes in 18th-century London. The action centres on Peachum, a fence for stolen goods; Polly, his daughter; and Macheath, a highwayman.
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Even though it is called an opera, the songs are arranged as ballads rather than operatic scores, and the content not only pokes fun at the real operas popular with the English upper class at the time, but also summarizes in an amusing way the double standards and bigotry of 18th-century politics and society. Peachum, a shady character with his feet planted on both sides of the law, determines who should be sent to the gallows and who should be saved through bribes. His wife, a prostitute, listens to his litany of crime and debauchery and defends one of her favorite customers, when news breaks that their daughter Polly has married a notorious robber.
The tale of Peachum, thief-taker and informer, conspiring to send the dashing and promiscuous highwayman Macheath to the gallows, became the theatrical sensation of the eighteenth century. Bryan Loughrey and T. Showing best matches Show all copies.
The Introduction features characters named Beggar and Playerwho address the audience directly. He explains that he earns a modest income there in exchange for his songs and ballads. The Player then assures the audience that the Beggar's work should be judged on its artistic merit, and not on the appearance of its author.
Sign in. When the composer of an opera about a swashbuckling, wenching highwayman meets his hero's real-life counterpart, he's disappointed with his lack of dash. Authentic rendering of John Gay's eighteenth century musical, filmed in Technicolor, about Captain MacHeath, a highwayman, and his love for too many beautiful women.
Handel, the most prolific and famous composer of the 18th century in England realized that the public favor was changing. Many Englishmen believed that the Italian star singers were overpaid and uncivil, that the language was a frustrating barrier, that the recitative or sung dialogue was artificial, and that the plots were unrealistic. Inthe first performance of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera attracted the acclaim and attention of the popular audience in England. The first run of the performance lasted 62 nights!
It was a sensation, drawing enormous audiences and enjoying a record of 62 performances before the end of the —28 season that June. This first ballad opera established a new dramatic form on the London stage, inspiring many similar works in the following years. Usage terms Public Domain The ballad opera The ballad opera was the idea of the writer and dramatist John Gay —