Show Summary Details

Page of
PRINTED FROM Oxford Music Online. © Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single article in Oxford Music Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

Ballad operalocked

  • Curtis Price
  •  and Robert D. Hume


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....

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.

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