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Written by John Gay
Directed by Walter Stump
Presented by the Treehouse Players
From the program:
On January 29, 1728, John Gay's The Beggar's Opera opened in London at Lincoln Inn Fields marking the end of one era and the beginning of another. The ballad opera construction utilized by Gay, was the culmination of a new theatre genre which had begun with the Italian Opera Buffa and later was refined. into the French Opera Comique. In addition to the Italian tradition of satirizing serious opera, Gay combined the French comedies-en-vaudville concept of using popular folk tunes in the musical score. Italian grand opera had become fashionable in 18th century London, and many English composers had parroted the style. Foremost among the advocates of the Italian methods for George Frederick Handel, among whose techniques were the use of vocal trills, recitative and grandiose themes of gods and heroes. The Beggar's Opera sets up an anti-hero, satirizing the use of recitative and mocks artificial vocal techniques. There was no doubt in the minds of Londoners that Handel was being lampooned.
Included among the satirical targets at which Gay aimed was the. whole neo-classical tradition. Fresh from the dictatorial French academy had come the rigid rules of neo-classism: the purity of dramatic types; the purposes of drama; verisimilitude and decorum, and the unity of time, place and action. The Beggar's Opera happily mixes tragedy with comedy in direct conflict of the pronouncement from the academy. Watch the closing scene with the above in mind.
Theatre, University of Southern Maine Department of Theatre, Theatre Program
Arts and Humanities | Theatre and Performance Studies | Theatre History
University of Maine Portland-Gorham, "The Beggar's Opera" (1972). Theatre Programs 1970-1989. 7.
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