A ballad-opera by John Gay (1728) realized from the original airs by Benjamin Britten, op. 43
Period of composition: Dec 1947 - May 1948
First performance: 24 May 1948 >>
Type of performance: Staged performance
Location: Arts Theatre, Cambridge
Performance details:

Gladys Parr Beggar, Flora Nielsen Mrs Peachum, George James Mr Peachum, Nancy Evans Polly, Peter Pears Captain Macheath, Norman Platt Filch Otakar Kraus Lockit, Rose Hill Lucy Lockit, Gladys Parr Mrs Trapes, Lesley Duff Mrs Vixen, Lily Kettlewell Suky Tawdry, Catherine Lawson Mrs Coaxer, Gladys Parr Dolly Trull, Elisabeth Parry Mrs Slammekin, Anne Sharp Molly Brazen, Jennifer Vyvyan Jenny Diver, Mildred Watson Betty Doxy, Roy Ashton Harry Paddington, Denis Dowling Ben Budge, John Highcock Wat Dreary, Norman Lumsden Mat of the mint, Norman Platt Jemmy Twitcher, Max Worthley Nimming Ned, EOG Orchestra

Tyrone Guthrie prod, Basil Coleman assistant prod, Tanya Moiseiwitsch design, Benjamin Britten cond

Genre: Stage work
Text: John Gay

With additional dialogue by Tyrone Guthrie.

Performing forces:

Cast and orchestra

Principals: Beggar spkr, Mrs Peachum mez, Mr Peachum bass, Polly mez, Captain Macheath ten, Filch ten, Lockit bar, Lucy Lockit sop, Mrs Trapes contr

Ladies of the Town (divided into sop, mez, and contr): Mrs Vixen, Suky Tawdry, Mrs Coaxer, Dolly Trull, Mrs Slammekin, Molly Brazen, Jenny Diver, Betty Doxy

Gentlemen of the Road (divided into ten, bar and bass): Harry Paddington, Ben Budge, Wat Dreary, Mat of the Mint, Jemmy Twitcher, Nimming Ned.

Orchestra: fl(=picc), ob (=ca), cl in B flat and A, bn - hn - perc (timp, trgl, wb, tamb, sd, td, bd, susp cymb, gong) - harp - string quintet (2 vn, va, vc, db)

Duration: 108'

Introduction and Act I: 50 mins;

Act II: 20 mins;

Act III: 38 mins

Dedication: 'Dedicated to James Lawrie'

James Lawrie (1907-1979), English businessman and financier. Member of the board of the EOG from its early years and Chairman from 1950 until 1960.


  • Act I >>



    Scene (Peachum's lock)

    1 Through all the employments of life Peachum

    2 'Tis woman that seduces all mankind Filch(or Ladies of the town)

    3 If any wench Venus' girdle wear Mrs Peachum

    4 If love the virgin's heart invade Mrs Peachum

    5 A maid is like the golden ore Mrs Peachum

    6 Virgins are like the fair flower Polly

    7 Our Polly is a sad slut! Mrs Peachum and omnes

    8 Can love be controlled by advice? Polly

    9 O Polly, you might have toyed and kissed Polly, Mrs Peachum and omnes

    10 I, like a ship in storms, was tossed Polly

    11 A fox may steal your hends, sir Peachum and Mrs Peachum

    12 Oh, ponder well! be not severe Polly

    13 The turtle thus with plaintive crying Polly

    14 MELODRAMA. Now I'm a wretch indeed" Polly

    Pretty Polly, say Polly, Macheath and omnes

    15 My heart was so free Macheath

    16 Were I laid on Greenland's coast Polly, Macheath and omnes

    17 O! what pain it is to part! Polly

    18 The miser thus a shilling sees Polly and Macheath

    Scene (A tavern near Newgate)

    19 Fill ev'ry glass Gentlemen of the road

    20 Let us take the road Gentlemen of the road

    21 If the heart of a man is depressed with cares Macheath

    22 Youth's the season made for joys Macheath and ladies of the town

    23 Before the barn-door crowing Jenny Diver and ladies of the town

    24 The gamesters and lawyers are jugglers alike Ladies of the town

    25 At the tree I shall suffer with pleasure Macheath

  • Act II >>

    Scene (Newgate)

    26 Man may escape from rope and gun Macheath

    27 Thus when a good housewife sees a rat Lucy

    28 How cruel are the traytors Lucy

    29 The first time at the looking-glass Macheath

    Scene (Another part of the prison)

    30 When you censure the age Lockit

    31 Is then his fate decreed, sir? Lucy and Lockit

    32 Thus when the swallow Polly

    33 How happy could I be with either Lucy, Polly and Macheath

    34 Cease your funning Polly and omnes

    35 Why how now, Madam Flirt! Lucy and Polly

    36 No power on earth can e'er divide Lucy, Polly, Macheath, Peachum, Lockit and omnes

  • Act III >>

    Scene (Newgate)

    37 When young at the bar Lucy

    38 Ungrateful Macheath" Lucy

    39 Thus gamesters united in friendship Lockit

    Scene (A gaming house at Marylebone)

    40 The modes of the court so common are grown Macheath and omnes

    Scene (Peachum's lock)

    41 What gudgeons are we men! Lockit and Peachum

    42 In the days of my youth Mrs Trapes, Lockit and Peachum

    43a In the days of my youth (exeunt) Mrs Trapes

    Scene (Newgate)

    43b I'm like a skiff on the ocean tossed Lucy

    44 A curse attends a woman's love Lucy and Polly

    45 Among the men coquets we find Polly

    46 Come, sweet lass Lucy

    47 Hither, dear husband Lucy and Polly

    48 Which way shall I turn me? Macheath

    49 When my hero in court appears Polly

    50 When he holds up his hand Lucy

    51 Ourselves, like the great Lockit and Peachum

    52 The charge is prepared Lucy, Polly, Macheath, Lockit, Peachum and omnes

    Scene (The condemned hold)

    53 SCENA. O cruel, cruel case! Macheath

    54 Would I might be hanged! Lucy, Polly and Macheath

    55 Thus I stand like the Turk Macheath and omnes