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Department of Theatre and Dance

"The Beggar's Opera" to Be Performed at UW

Feb. 7, 2006 -- The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance will present John Gay's ground-breaking ballad opera "The Beggar's Opera," Tuesday, Feb. 14, through Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. on the Fine Arts Center main stage.

Tickets cost $13 for adults, $11 for senior citizens and $6 for students. For ticket information or to purchase, call the ticket office at (307) 766-6666, stop by the Fine Arts Center box office (10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays) or go online at

Directed by Vocal Arts Professor and UW Opera Theatre Head Larry L. Hensel, the production takes the audience on a tour through the seedy London underworld of 1720. Complete with pickpockets, cutthroats, corrupt politicians and women of easy virtue, "The Beggar's Opera" struck a chord with audiences in a time of appalling social and political corruption. Many of the play's main characters, all criminals, were based on prominent figures of the time.

"The opera's humor is aimed at all levels of society and pokes fun at the universal truths of what it is to be human," says Hensel. "It's the humor that makes this work particularly ironic. The characters live out their lives in poverty and fear of the criminal justice system, which is itself corrupt."

The piece also pokes fun at the high art of Italian opera, which had never been hugely popular in England. Gay swapped the expected grand arias for coarse street ballads and popular songs set to new lyrics.

"Because of its humor and short, tuneful songs, ‘The Beggar's Opera’ tends to be quite popular with audiences," says Hensel.

Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2006

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