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Paperback The Beggar's Opera Book

ISBN: 0486408884

ISBN13: 9780486408880

The Beggar's Opera

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Book Overview

A receiver of stolen goods informs on his chief supplier, setting in motion an increasingly absurd turn of events. This satirical 1728 play was to become the prototype for Threepenny Opera. The great lords and powerful public officials of early 18th century England are represented as highwaymen and thieves in this deliciously satirical ballad opera. In addition to its burlesque of the contemporary vogue for Italian operatic styles, John Gay's 1728...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The Birth of Mack the Knife best read in this Regents Restoration Drama edition

The beggar's opera,: And companion pieces (Crofts classics) is good as it includes extra writings from Mr. John Gay, friend of Jonathan Swift (the Irish cleric of The Essential Writings of Jonathan Swift (Norton Critical Edition) and A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works (Dover Thrift Editions) and Gulliver's Travels (Oxford World's Classics)) and collaborator with Alexander Pope in the gathering and editting of Shakespeare's plays. Specifically the Croft edition contains excerpts from Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of London. We would wish very much to find a complete edition of the writings and plays of Mr. Gay, yet we are fortunate to find at least one here in this Regents Restoration Drama edition, the one for which he is most famous, as it was gratefully adapted by Mr. Bertolt Brecht some eighty years ago for the well known The Threepenny Opera (Penguin Classics), whose Kurt Weill music we groundlings know best in the one song Mack the Knife. Here in the Regents edition we find the original play, with the longest section of this book the collection of sheet music with songs and lyrics, the melodies of which come from traditional airs of that time, as this was the earliest ballad opera. A brilliant introduction by Edgar V. Roberts presents fully the history, context, arguement and effects of this opera, which basically satirizes the felonoius larceny of the London aristocracy in the guise of cheap hoodlums and thieves, as if Dick Cheney's Halliburton ran and protected no more than your city, for a fee. Read this book. Know your history. See what is happening today under our globalization and free trade agreements. Read this book. A very helpful chronology completes this volume, setting Gay into the context of his day. This may be all we can hope for, and I certainly would like to read the rest of Trivia, and of Polly, and of The What D'ye Call It.

All professions be rogue one another

Absolutely deplorable people doing rather hardhearted things. Loved it! Couldn't stop reading it once I had scanned the first couple of lines. What's not to love about a cast of 18th century rogues and lowlifes? I just wish I could see this actually performed-- seems like it'd be extremely entertaining to watch.

The Beggar's Opera plus John Gay's Poetry and Letters - Includes selections from The Art of Walking

The Beggar's Opera has weathered nearly three hundred years of change, and yet its humorous satire remains vibrant today. Its first performance January 29, 1728 was an immediate success and its popularity quickly spread to Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Germany, and even to the New England colonies (and became a favorite of George Washington). A London revival in 1920 ran 1,463 performances. A Beggar's Opera Club had membership limited to those that had seen at least forty performances. Later, Duke Ellington wrote the music for a Broadway musical called The Beggar's Holiday. Bertholt Brecht's version, Three Penny Opera, has been immensely successful too, with the rendition of one of the play's songs, Mack the Knife, becoming Number One on the Hit Parade in the early 1960s. John Gay's innovative musical overwhelmed the formal, highly structured, Italian opera - in Italian - that dominated the London stage at that time. Gay's new, rollicking, rowdy lyrics overlain on traditional English ballads and sentimental melodies had extraordinary appeal. Although having only three acts, The Beggar's Opera has some forty-five scenes, almost all with musical interludes. Gay holds his myriad of short scenes together with nearly continuous action, more akin to a motion picture than to the conventional eighteenth century play. The cast was equally original with cutthroats, pickpockets, thieves, streetwalkers, and highwaymen. The only honest character was the simple, sweet, trusting Polly Peachum. Miss Lavina Fenton, the best theatrical singer of her day, became immensely popular for her role as Polly; at the end of the run, a record setting sixty-two performances, she married the Duke of Bolton and retired from acting. The audience was quick to associate Newgate Prison with Whitehall; the deceitful, avaricious Peachum (Polly's father) with Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister; Macheath's band of rogues (like Jemmy Twitcher, Crook-Fingered Jack, and Nimming Ned) with aristocratic courtiers, and Macheath's women of the streets (Mrs. Coaxer, Dolly Trull, Mrs. Vixen, Molly Brazen, etc.) with ladies of high society. The Beggar's Opera and Companion Pieces, Crofts Classics, 1966, edited by C. F. Burgess, has a moderately short introduction. Unlike some editions, the lyrics embedded within the play are not accompanied by musical scores. This edition is particularly valuable for including other works by John Gay: a selection from Trivia (subtitled The Art of Walking the Streets of London), other poems (Newgate's Garland, 'Twas When the Seas Were Roaring, Sweet William's Farewell, Molly Mog, An Epistle to a Lady, and The Hare and Many Friends), and extracts from various letters. Trivia is perhaps the finest poem of any period on London life. I also like the Barron's Educational Series edition: The Beggar's Opera by John Gay, edited by Benjamin Griffith, with full page, delightful ink-line drawings of the key characters by Keogh. The lengthy, three-part int

Birth of the Modern Musical - John Gay's Genius Overwhelms Italian Opera

From its first performance, January 29, 1728, The Beggar's Opera was an absolute success. In that period a box office hit might be continued for four or five nights. Remarkably, The Beggar's Opera ran sixty-two nights in London, and was produced nearly every year thereafter to 1886. Its popularity quickly spread to Wales and Scotland, France and Germany, and even to the New England colonies (and became a favorite of George Washington). A London revival in 1920 ran 1,463 performances. A Beggar's Opera Club had membership limited to those that had seen at least 40 performances. Bertholt Brecht's twentieth century version, Three Penny Opera, was immensely successful too. A jazzy rendition of one of Brecht's songs, Mack the Knife, became Number One on the Hit Parade in the early 1960s. John Gay's innovative musical appealed to the masses with its rollicking, rowdy, English lyrics overlain on old, sentimental melodies. Formal, highly structured, Italian opera was shoved aside by this novel musical form. The cast was equally original, being comprised of cutthroats, pickpockets, thieves, streetwalkers, highwaymen, and a corrupt jailer. Polly Peachum, the sweet, trusting daughter of the roguish Peachum, was the only honest character in the play. Miss Lavina Fenton, perhaps the best theatrical singer of her day, became immensely popular for her role as Polly and at end of the run - the sixty-two performances - she married the Duke of Bolton and retired from acting. The audience was quick to associate Newgate Prison with Whitehall; the deceitful, avaricious Peachum (Polly's father) with Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister; Macheath's band of rogues (Jemmy Twitcher, Crook-Fingered Jack, Nimming Ned, etc.) with aristocratic courtiers, and Macheath's women of the streets (Mrs. Coaxer, Dolly Trull, Mrs. Vixen, Molly Brazen, etc.) with ladies of high society. This short three-act play has some forty-five scenes, almost all with musical interludes. Gay holds this myriad of scenes together through nearly continuous action, more akin to a modern film than to the conventional eighteenth century play. The Penguin Classics edition (titled The Beggar's Opera, as might be expected), edited by Brian Loughrey and T. O. Treadwell, is quite good and not difficult to find. Another good choice (and my favorite) is The Beggar's Opera published by Barron's Educational Series, edited by Benjamin Griffith, and illustrated by Keogh with full page ink-line drawings of the key characters. The lengthy, three part introduction - the playwright, the play, and the staging - is quite helpful. The initial musical notes are presented along with the lyrics. The Beggar's Opera, Regents Restoration Drama Series, Nebraska University Press, 1969 may be more suitable for English majors as it offers a scholarly introduction by Edgar V. Roberts. An extensive appendix, some 140 pages, is a compilation of the music of The Beggar's Opera with keyboard accompaniments, edited by Edward Smith

Crime, Love and the Opera

The Beggar's Opera by John Gay is an artful yet honest representation of London in the early 1700s. As the Editor's introduction notes, it is a political satire that brings to life the actions of such notorious figures as Jonathan Wild and Robert Walpole. In the Beggar's introduction the reader is made aware of the author's intent to mock the recent craze of the Italian Opera, which is considered by Gay to be thouroughly "unnatural." Immediately after that we are exposed to the corruption of a city offical, Peachum (whose name means "to inform against a fellow criminal"), as he is choosing which criminals should live, as they are still profitable, and who should not, as they have turned honest. Peachum's character of both an arch-criminal and law man is interesting enough in his daily dealings; add to that his daughter's recent marriage to a highwayman (who the father then plots to send to the gallows). Not to mention what happens when the highwayman runs into an old aquaintance of his, who visibly shows his earlier affection, and you have what makes to be a highly entertaining, emotional, and educational story of 18th century London. The dialogue is well written, and the only problem a modern reader might have is the operatic aspect. I suspect that the mockery of the opera is not felt as much when read but rather when performed. Note to reader: it makes it much easier to understand if you read the introduction. There you will find instances of "real" London that the playwrite is satirizing. For all lovers of period English pieces who enjoy a cynical wit.
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