A ballad opera is neither rife with ballads, nor an opera. Rather, a ballad opera is a "British stage production from 1728 to 1760 that combines a comic or sentimental play with musical numbers that re-used 'common Tunes' i.e. airs whose broad circulation allowed them to be recalled by title only." This ballad opera website was created at Oxford University and represents the collective efforts of a team of British and American music scholars. The website does a great job of informing visitors about the attributes of the ballad opera and the societal context in which it came about, by including sections on "Theatre & Dance History", "Cultural History", "Political History", and "Stars of Ballad Operas". Visitors should not miss the "Audio Samples" link, on the left hand menu. There are about half a dozen to listen to, and the recordings are very high quality. Each is about one or two minutes long. The ballad operas are all sung in English so it is fairly easy to understand the words to the songs. The first tune, "How Cruel are the Traitors" is just lovely, and the last "Of all the Girls in our Town", is a jaunty traditional dance tune.
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