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The Beggar's Opera

In this month's Early Music Show "opera profile", Lucie Skeaping looks at the inspiration, background and impact of John Gay's celebrated Beggar's Opera.

In this month's Early Music Show "opera profile", Lucie Skeaping looks at the inspiration, background and impact of John Gay's celebrated Beggar's Opera which appeared in London in 1728 as a reaction to the excesses and pretensions of fashionable Italian opera. Far from the exulted realms of the ancient heroes and the classical gods, the opera celebrates the worst of 18th century London street life, featuring beggars, cut-throats, thieves and prostitutes singing the popular ballad tunes of the day. Lucie considers the London lust for ballads and ballad-singing during this time, and is joined by Jeremy Barlow of the Broadside Band, at Lincoln's Inn Fields, the home to the first performances of The Beggar's Opera, to consider Gay's radical operatic satire the ballads inspired.

1 hour

Music Played

  • [unknown]

    Give me my Yellow Hose Again

    Performers: The City Waites

    • ARC.
    • EUCD 1616.
  • [unknown]

    Green Stockings

    Performers: The City Waites

    • REGIS RECORDS.
    • RRC 1175.
  • [unknown]

    Lumps of Pudding

    Performers: The City Waites

    • ARC.
    • EUCD 1616.
  • [unknown]

    The Frolic

    Performers: The City Waites

    • REGIS RECORDS.
    • RRC 1175.
  • [unknown]

    The Song of the Cutpurse

    Performers: The City Waites

    • SOUNDALIVE MUSIC (now discontinued).
    • SAMHSCD202.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Julius Ceasar: Overture, Presti omai l'Egizia terra

    Performers: James Bowman (countertenor), La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy, Jean-Claude Malgoire (conductor)

    • ASTREE.
    • E 8558.
  • John Gay/Johann Christoph Pepusch

    Excerpts from The Beggars Opera: Pretty Polly say, My heart was so free, Where I laid on G

    Performers: Sarah Walker, Charles Daniels, Richard Jackson, Adrian Thompson, Bronwen Mills, Anne Dawson, Bob Hoskins, Ian Caddy, The Broadside Band, Jeremy Barlow (director)

    • HYPERION.
    • CDA 66591/2.

Broadcast

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