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First played in 1728, "the Beggar's Opera" is a mock-pastoral ballad opera largely set in Newgate Prison. It is a mixture of political satire and travesty of fashionable Italian opera using old English and Scottish songs and airs. It is the story of Captain (Mac the Knife) Macheath, highwayman and carefree winner of woman's hearts, who conquers Polly, the daughter of Peachum, a fence who turns an honest penny by informing against his clients. Peachum is so enraged that he grasses on Macheath and has him committed to Newgate. here, Lucy,the daughter of the jailer falls in love with Macheath and there follows a spirited conflict between Polly and Lucy. In spite of her jealousy, Lucy procures the escape of Macheath and all live (more or less) happily ever after.
Born in 1685, John Gay's first major success was THE SHEPHERD'S WEEK. It was followed by a number of other works, the most enduring of which is THE BEGGAR'S OPERA. Gay died in 1732, and is remembered as a popular and genial man whose self-penned epitaph reads 'Life is a jest, and all things show it, I thought it once, and now I know it'. Loughrey and Treadwell worked together at Roehampton Institute and have both published in scholarly journals.