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Beggar’s Opera, the first musical

These are the show notes which accompany episode 68 of the Ladies Who London podcast. Find the podcast on all your usual podcast providers. The original Lincoln’s Inn Fields theatre on Portugal street. This is where the Beggar’s Opera premiered in 1728.



Sir William Davenant, who was on the owner of one of two patents from King Charles II to produce serious, spoken-word drama.



John Gay, the author of the Beggar’s Opera, seen to be the first musical. He brought the show to the owner of the theatre at the time, John Rich. Together they would produce a theatre-changing production.



Lavinia Fenton, when she had become the Duchess of Bolton. A true rags to riches story, Lavinia caught the eye of the Duke Of Bolton as she was performing the part of Polly Peachum in the Beggar’s Opera, and it changed her life.


A painting by William Hogarth showing one of the climactic scenes in which Polly and Lucy pleas for the life of MacHeath. The highwayman MacHeath is in the centre in chains, as Polly (played by Lavinia Fenton) is in white on her knees, pleasing for his life. Slightly further to the right, in blue, is the Duke of Bolton looking on.












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