Also in the twentieth century, American composers like Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Gian Carlo Menotti, Douglas Moore, and Carlisle Floyd began to contribute English-language operas infused with touches of popular musical styles. It had a libretto by John Gay and music arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch, both of whom probably experienced vaudeville theatre in Paris, and may have been motivated to reproduce it in an English form.
By the middle of the century, however, the genre was already in decline.
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Although they featured the lower reaches of society, the audiences for these works were typically the London bourgeois. As a reaction to serious opera at this time almost invariably sung in Italian , the music, for these audiences, was as satirical in its way as the words of the play. A significant source from which the music was drawn was the fund of popular airs to which eighteenth-century London broadside ballads are set.
This was successfully performed in Hamburg, Leipzig and elsewhere in Germany in the s. A new version was produced by C. Weisse and Johann Adam Hiller in Interestingly, many of these works were introduced as after-pieces to performances of Italian operas. On the other hand, it uses just one tune from the original—all the other music being specially composed, and thus omits one of the most distinctive features of the original ballad opera.
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Opera – an introduction
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