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4.0 von 5 Sternen Crime, Love and the Opera, 30. März 2000
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The Beggar's Opera by John Gay is an artful yet honest representation of London in the early 1700s. As the Editor's introduction notes, it is a political satire that brings to life the actions of such notorious figures as Jonathan Wild and Robert Walpole. In the Beggar's introduction the reader is made aware of the author's intent to mock the recent craze of the Italian Opera, which is considered by Gay to be thouroughly "unnatural." Immediately after that we are exposed to the corruption of a city offical, Peachum (whose name means "to inform against a fellow criminal"), as he is choosing which criminals should live, as they are still profitable, and who should not, as they have turned honest. Peachum's character of both an arch-criminal and law man is interesting enough in his daily dealings; add to that his daughter's recent marriage to a highwayman (who the father then plots to send to the gallows). Not to mention what happens when the highwayman runs into an old aquaintance of his, who visibly shows his earlier affection, and you have what makes to be a highly entertaining, emotional, and educational story of 18th century London. The dialogue is well written, and the only problem a modern reader might have is the operatic aspect. I suspect that the mockery of the opera is not felt as much when read but rather when performed. Note to reader: it makes it much easier to understand if you read the introduction. There you will find instances of "real" London that the playwrite is satirizing. For all lovers of period English pieces who enjoy a cynical wit.
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