ballad opera

Definition

Theater

  • A type of musical drama popular in the 18th century, in whichspoken dialogue was interspersed with songs set to well-known tunes.The form began as a parody of Italian opera and remained satirical,often attacking contemporary political figures. Gay's The Beggar'sOpera (1728) remains the most famous example. A year later CharlesCoffey produced The Beggar's Wedding and the same author's playThe Devil to Pay (1731) also became a popular ballad opera whencut to one act. When translated into German (as Der Teufel ist los;1743) this inspired the development of the parallel Singspieletradition there.

    The ballad opera style was revived by the success of IsaacBickerstaffe's Love in a Village in 1762, but thisand such later works as Sheridan's The Duenna (1775) arenot true ballad operas, their music having been specially composed.

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