The Beggar's Opera by John GayThe Beggar's Opera by John Gay

The Beggar's Opera

byJohn GayIntroduction byBryan Loughrey, T. O. Treadwell

Paperback | January 6, 1987

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‘Whore and rogue they call husband and wife:
All professions be-rogue one another'

The tale of Peachum, thief-taker and informer, conspiring to send the dashing and promiscuous highwayman Macheath to the gallows, became the theatrical sensation of the eighteenth century. In The Beggar’s Opera, John Gay turned conventions of Italian opera riotously upside-down, instead using traditional popular ballads and street tunes, while also indulging in political satire at the expense of the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. Gay’s highly original depiction of the thieves, informers, prostitutes and highwaymen thronging the slums and prisons of the corrupt London underworld proved brilliantly successful in exposing the dark side of a corrupt and jaded society.

Bryan Loughrey and T. O. Treadwell’s introduction examines the eighteenth-century background of musical theatre and opera, the changing cityscape of London and the corruption of the legal system. This edition also includes a note on the music in The Beggar’s Opera and suggestions for further reading.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Born in Devon in 1685, John Gay was apprentice to a silk mercer in London for a short time but returned to his family and began to write verse. The Shepherd's Week (1714) was the first to demonstrate his ability. He became known to Alexander Pope and the Scriblerus circle then forming, and with Pope and Arbuthnot wrote the satire Thr...
Title:The Beggar's OperaFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:128 pages, 7.79 × 5.12 × 0.33 inShipping dimensions:7.79 × 5.12 × 0.33 inPublished:January 6, 1987Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140432205

ISBN - 13:9780140432206


From Our Editors

No other play was performed as often during the 18th century as The Beggar’s Opera. Author John Gay struck a chord with audiences of the era with his unflinching portrayal of rogues and whores living tragic lives underfoot of the rich. While most popular plays of the time showcased the elegant lives of the upper class, Gay brought theatregoers into the prisons and rookeries of London. His innovative portrayal of themes and settings made him one of the most popular playwrights of his era. Editors Bryan Loughrey and T.O. Treadwell put together a wonderfully prized addition to the renowned Penguin Classics library.