Beggar's Opera, The

Composer: Gay, John 1685 - 1732

Version: arranged by Richard Bonynge & Douglas Gamley

Written in 1728, John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera was the most successful theatrical work of its day. The opera satirised Italian opera, which had become popular in London, and also politics, poverty and injustice, focusing on the theme of corruption at all levels of society. SYNOPSIS: The story tells of Peachum and Mrs. Peachum, and their daughter Polly, who has secretly married notorious highwayman Macheath. Keen to kill Macheath for his money, the Peachums arrange for him to be jailed in Newgate prison. The prison is run by corrupt jailer Lockit, whose daughter Lucy had agreed to marry Macheath, which causes problems when Polly arrives and claims him as her husband! They help Macheath to escape, and Lockit and Peachum decide to split the highwayman’s fortune. Lucy unsuccessfully tries to poison Polly, but when Macheath is recaptured, it transpires that four more women – all pregnant – are each claiming Macheath as their husband! In the end, bowing to the audience’s desire for a happy ending, Macheath is reprieved, and he marries Polly. Richard Bonynge and Doglas Gamley’s excellent new arrangement was produced for the 1981 recording featuring Joan Sutherland and Kiri Te Kanawa.

2 (2 dbl picc).2 (2 dbl ca).2.asax.2. / / timp / perc / pno dbl cel / hp / str

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