The Beggars' Opera

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“But think of this maxim, and put off your sorrow, The wretch of to-day, may be happy tomorrow” - The Beggar’s Opera. The Beggars’ Opera is a three act play written in 1728 by John Gay of England. It is one of the most influential productions that has come out of 18th Century England. The play is a perfect example of a ballad opera, a ironic comedy, and satire. It’s elements of music and comedic pantomime makes the piece unique for its time. Today, The Beggars’ Opera is still being performed globally and has helped shape on going theatre.
The production begins with the Beggar and the Player introducing the opera. The Beggar explains that is still an opera that is different but no means unorthodox. The Player then cues the overture to begin playing. The story opens with Mr. Peachum , a thief catcher, checking his finances when he is interrupted by Mrs. Peachum who brings disturbing news. Their daughter, Polly Peachum, has secretly married a highwayman named Macheath. The two contemplate how to fix the situation and come to a conclusion that Macheath must be killed so the marriage is ended and the Peachum’s receive his inheritance. Polly overhears this and warns Macheath. Macheath goes to a whorehouse where he meets some lovely prostitutes. They share stories of their crimes, when two of the prostitutes turn him in to Mr. Peachum.
Macheath became imprisoned under the supervision of warden Lockit. Lockit’s daughter Lucy is in love with Macheath and it is discovered that he previously proposed to her. Polly entered the scene looking for her husband Macheath. Lucy then discovers this betrayal. However Macheath tells Lucy that Polly has just gone mad. Still in doubt over the situation, Lucy helps Macheath escape from prison. Lockit ...

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...uge hit having it’s first run last sixty two nights. The play was later performed in Dublin, Glasgow, Jamaica, and is one of the first musical comedies to be performed in America, more specifically New York. The audiences found it easy to connect with the realism, fall into the catchiness of the tunes, and laugh at the satire. The Beggars’ Opera was so popular it performed every year after it opened in the 18th century.
The Beggars’ Opera is one of the best examples of a ballad opera of all time. The unparalleled comedy, influences of satires, and irony makes this piece acceptably unique. The music took the play to a whole new element while remaining entertaining and witty. While controversial, the show realism allows the audience to connects easier to the piece. The Beggars’ Opera used a combination of humor and social issues and ended up becoming a classic play!
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