The Beggar's Opera

The Beggar's Opera

The Beggar's Opera

The Beggar's Opera

Excerpt

Gay sold the copyright for The Beggar's Opera toJohn Watts on February 6, 1728, eight days after the first performance on January 29, and Watts published the text in octavo (O1) on February 14. The music was printed from copper plates, without words, in two separate gatherings at the end. These gatherings exist in a number of different issues and states, and a complete study would be lengthy. Briefly, however, during the press run of O1, which apparently continued for a month and a half, three separate sets of engravings of gathering G were used, along with two of gathering H. The earliest issue is represented by copies now at Harvard ( Murdock 211.5) and the Huntington Library ([Huth-Chew] 144496). There are two transitional issues, as in copies at Harvard ( 15459.628.10) and the Folger Shakespeare Library (PR/3473/B3/1728/Cage). Copies of the last issue, which seems to be the most common, are at Harvard ( 15459.628.20), Huntington (K-D 141), and the University of Texas Library (WK./G252/728 ba). Few of the copies are identical, for minor changes were made in the plates during the run of the presses. At the time the last engravings of the music were in the press, an additional song (Air LVI, "Ourselves, like the great," to the music of "A Cobbler There Was") was included in the text itself, on page 53, with music printed by a wood-block method. To accommodate this alteration, the standing type of O1 was re-arranged.

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