Tuesday, 15 April 2008

94. John Gay - The Beggar's Opera (1728)


Title: John Gay's The Beggar's Opera
Performers: Jeremy Barlow, Sarah Walker, Bob Hoskins etc.
Director: Jeremy Barlow
Year: 1991
Length: 2 hours 30 minutes


Well this is pretty funny in the context of the Handel's operas we've been having lately. John Gay's "opera" is a direct response to Handel's opera seria. This piece eschews recitative and works basically as a play with some singing in it, which makes it kind of hard to actually consider it an opera.

This piece works much better seen than played on CD, about 70% of it is talking, this gives the sense of a musical play more so than an opera, still it is pretty interesting.

That said it will not be a CD I'll be putting on again, I would actually be more likely to see it again than play it. It just doesn't work as an exclusively aural piece, this is a play. But if you are a fan of Handel's operas it is an essential and very funny farce. It is of course also a social farce and not just a musical one, the themes of opera seria are transposed to the lowest criminals, prostitutes and beggars.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The Beggar's Opera is ballad opera, a satiric play using some of the conventions of opera, but without the recitative. It is one of the watershed plays in Augustan drama. The lyrics of the airs in the play are set to popular broadsheet ballads, opera arias, church hymns and folk tunes of the time. The original run of The Beggar's Opera, of 62 successive performances, was the longest run in the theatre up to that time.

Mrs. Peachum:

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