Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] McKay, David. "The Fashionable Lady: The First Opera by an American." The Musical Quarterly 65 (July 1979): 360-67.

James Ralph's (1695-1762) The Fashionable Lady (1730) should be considered the first opera by an American, not Anthony Aston's The Fool's Opera (as cited by Sonneck in his Early Opera in America). Ralph, foremost a writer, travelled with Benjamin Franklin to England beginning in 1724, and moved in circles of notable friends such as John Gay, Alexander Pope and William Hogarth. The Fashionable Lady fits into the scheme of English ballad opera of the period. Specific numbers in this opera are lifted most often from John Gay's The Beggar's Opera and Polly, but also from Charles Johnson's The Village Opera and Thomas Walker's The Quaker's Opera. Only one number in Ralph's work, "The Queen's Old Courtier" (Air no. 56), could possibly have been composed by Ralph; in this rare instance, the music suits Ralph's text.

Works: James Ralph: The Fashionable Lady.

Index Classifications: 1700s

Contributed by: John Andrew Johnson

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