March 17, 2014 – English
The Country Wife @ uleth: March 18-22
Extra participation mark (+1) if you attend (must show the ticket)
The Beggar’s Opera: notable difference? Music. Songs are very important thematically. Ballad
opera. Generic hybrid. Opera features English singers (at the time they would be Italian
singers). Simple songs (ballads, very English, English folk songs), a few pieces of music from
Handel (wrote Italian opera for the English stage), John Gray wrote some libretto for Handel and
used some of his songs to make fun of Italian opera. Songs fit in to the plot. First performance:
1728, it was rejected at first but was finally accepted and ran for 62 nights in a row. People were
a little wary about what it was. 6 nights was the average run. John Gray became a celebrity.
Every 3 nights the playwright would get the proceeds from the play. Influence on Gilbert and
Sullivan. Element of social, political critique. The actors weren’t very well known. Doesn’t have
Often played on the love triangle: Senesino would have to choose between the two women.
• Senesino: castrato, cultural celebrity
• Cuzzonit: famous sopranos
• Faustina: famous sopranos
Italian opera came to England at 1705. Famous castrati and divas, the people would attend to
hear certain arias. Opera was a combination of aria (virtuosic music that was reflecting on the
action) and recitative (furthers the action, sung dialogue). High drama, artificial plotlines,
characters: royalty, exotic settings and characters. Dubious enjoyment, nonsense (they were in
Italian and the English didn’t understand it). Opera was questionable and a foreign influence. It
was effective as a tool of entertainment not much substance for instruction.
• Much Ado About Nothing: Elizabethan drama includes songs. An extension of the
Elizabethan drama is the addition of song.