Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Del Mar, Norman. "The Chamber Operas. III. The Beggar's Opera." In Benjamin Britten: A Commentary on His Works from a Group of Specialists, ed. Donald Mitchell and Hans Keller, 163-85. London: Rockliff, 1952; reprint, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972.

In 1948, Britten composed his realization of the The Beggar's Opera. Of the realizations made of this opera, Britten's was the first to use so many of the original songs, sixty-six of the sixty-nine airs. His realizations range from supplying original accompaniments to the development of operatic forms such as melodramas, scenas, and finales based on one or more tunes. The airs as treated by Britten may be classified ino six categories: (1) "Straight setting" (similar to his folksong settings); (2) "Straight settings, but with the phrases of the air spaced apart"; (3) "Straight settings, but with the melody itself treated freely"; (4) "Settings in which the air is worked into an elaborate, but formally concise, musical scheme" (subdivided into numbers with and without chorus); (5) "Settings embodied in larger musical designs" (numbers with introductions and codas based on original material derived from the airs); and (6) "Settings in which two or more airs are used in combination." As part of his settings, Britten was able to retain the original keys of a large number of the airs. He also restored Macheath's role from a baritone, as it had been sung for several years, to the original tenor.

Works: Benjamin Britten: The Beggar's Opera.

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Nikola D. Strader

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