Personalities | John Gay | Late Baroque | Opera

1685–1732, English

A friend and collaborator of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), John Gay invented the genre of ballad opera with The Beggar’s Opera. It premiered on 29 January 1728 at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and performed 62 times in its first season. The popular perception that The Beggar’s Opera was an attack on Italian opera is untrue. It contains a mocking parody of the rivalry between Faustina and Cuzzoni, but Gay had previously contributed to Handel’s Acis and Galatea, and the success of The Beggar’s Opera cannot be securely attributed to the same audience that supported Italian operas at the King’s Theatre. The target of the satire was intended to be Walpole’s government, and censors suppressed the intended sequel Polly. Gay never repeated the success of The Beggar’s Opera, and died one year before his last ballad opera Achilles was popularly received at Covent Garden in 1733.

Introduction | Late Baroque | Opera
Personalities | George Frideric Handel | Late Baroque | Opera
Techniques | The Beggar’s Opera | Late Baroque | Opera


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.