This ballad opera combines comedy and political satire in prose interspersed with popular songs set to traditional English, Irish, Scottish and French tunes.
In this retelling, Peachum is a thief catcher furious that his daughter Polly has married the infamous highwayman Macheath. He has Macheath arrested and locked up in a prison run by the corrupt jailor Lockit. However, Macheath convinces Lockit’s daughter Lucy to help him escape. But things get complicated when Polly arrives with a plan to rescue her husband.
Returned to the prison, Macheath is to be hanged, only to be saved when the titular Beggar – the opera’s narrator – is persuaded to provide a happier ending.
Baritone Robert Gildon sings the roles of the Beggar and Peachum, with Poppy Young as Mrs Peachum and Sophie-May Anderson as the couple’s daughter Polly. Baritone Samuel Oram is Macheath. Angela Tait performs the role of Lucy, with Malachy King as her father, the corrupt Lockit.
Macheath’s criminal gang of pickpockets, the ladies of the town and the ensemble are all sung by members of Jubilee Opera. John Andrews conducts.
Jenni Wake-Walker, Jubilee Opera’s artistic director, commented: “Join us for The Beggar’s Opera, a comic satire as modern today as it was 300 years ago! Lively and colourful, with glorious songs, humour and pathos.”
The one-off performance takes place on 12 March at 6pm at Suffolk’s Britten Studio, Snape Maltings, Snape. Tickets are available from Britten Pears Arts now and cost £12, or £6 for the under 16s.
Jubilee Opera was formed in 1987 in order to perform in a production of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde (1958), a one-act opera intended primarily for amateur performers, particularly children. The performance took place in Aldeburgh Church, the first time the opera had been staged there. The local community’s support for this children’s ensemble was such that it was decided to form a permanent opera company for aspiring young performers.
The company offers children the opportunity to work alongside professional performers on high-quality productions. It gives young people, who have little opportunity elsewhere, the chance to discover their own abilities and to develop their musical and performance skills, engendering a lifelong love of the performance arts.
Youth opera company Jubilee Opera is set to stage a new adaptation of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera at Britten Studio in Suffolk this March; here some of the young performers can be seen in rehearsals.