The Beggar's Opera

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The Beggar’s Opera is a ballad opera. The text is by John Gay (1685-1732) and the music consists largely of pouplar tunes of the day to whic Gay adapted his own words. In the original production these were arranged and orchestrated by Dr. Christoph Pepusch, who also composed the overture.

A musical comedy about the love triangle between the highwayman Macheath, his fence's daughter Polly and the jailer's daughter Lucy.

The original text

First produced in the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre in London in 1728.

Translations and adaptations

There was a London revival at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, produced by Sir Nigel Playfair, for which the music was freely rearranged by Frederic Austin.

Since 1920 there had been several "rewrites" of The Beggar's Opera.

It later formed the basis of Bertolt Brecht’s immensely popular The Threepenny Opera (qv.).

Adapted by Louis Burke for the CAPAB production.

Performance history in South Africa

Staged in Cape Town in 1922 at the Opera House by an overseas company under the direction of African Theatres Ltd.

A production by CAPAB in 1965 was directed and choreographed by Louis Burke, with Joan Brickhill, David Holliday [1] and a large cast which included Fitz Morley, Paddy Canavan, Yvonne Bryceland, Frank Lazarus. Musical direction was by Walter Swanson, decor by Bill Smuts, costumes by joan Brickhill. This production was then taken to Johannesburg by Theatre International in 1966.


Wikipedia [2].

The Beaggar's Opera theatre programme, 1965.

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