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Ballad operalocked

  • Curtis Price
  •  and Robert D. Hume

Extract

A distinctively English form in which spoken dialogue alternates with songs set to traditional or popular melodies and sung by the actors themselves. A vogue for the form was sparked by the enormous popularity of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (January 1728) but faded out by the mid-1730s. Some 80 such works were written in these years, but only a handful remained in the repertory. The genre was invented by Gay as a complex vehicle for both harsh and subtle satire; for most of his successors it quickly became little more than a way of padding out farces with popular music....

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Musical Antiquary
R. Fiske: English Theatre Music in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1973, 2/1986)
A. Nicoll: The History of English Drama, 1660-1900 (Cambridge, 1952-9)
Musical Quarterly