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date: 12 November 2019

Dragon of Wantley, Thelocked

  • Peter Holman

Extract

Burlesque opera in three acts by John Frederick Lampe to a libretto by Henry Carey; London, Little Theatre in the Haymarket, 16 May 1737.

This was Lampe’s first great success, and it came after about ten years’ work in the London theatre as a bassoonist and composer. Carey, his regular collaborator, probably came from the Rotherham area of Yorkshire, and would therefore have known the local legend of Moore of Moore Hall and the dragon of Wantley or Wharncliffe, though it was also well known nationally through the ballad printed by Thomas D’Urfey in Pills to Purge Melancholy (1699) and by Ambrose Phillips in A Collection of Old Ballads (1723). The idea of turning the tale into a burlesque of Italian opera probably came from James Ralph, who published the synopsis of a possible libretto in The Touchstone (1728); Carey and Lampe worked on the text together, and apparently offered it to Charles Fleetwood at Drury Lane as early as ...

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London, Royal College of Music, Library