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Gay’s wildly popular “ballad opera,” consisting of popular tunes given new words, inspired imitations that gradually shifted from existing to newly composed music, eventuating in Gilbert and Sullivan’s concoctions in England and Offenbach’s confections in Paris.

He has strong opinionsbut nevertheless, the writing is always filled with humor and fascinating tidbits.

For anyone who wantsto really 'get into the weeds' of the subject. Surprisingly, he covers the history of musical theatre in one volume, still adding new insights not in his extensive 6 volume through-the-decade works (which are a MUST BUY).

I think I have read all of the "decade" books that Mordden has written.

However, those books do not have the luxury of making the vast leaps between eras that this book makes.

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Its grand progenitor, Mordden says, is John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728), a socially satirical parody of the Italian operas that then dominated London theater.

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Learn more *Starred Review* One of the two most American contributions to world art, the musical springs (as does the other, jazz) from immigrant stock.

The book he hasn't quite written, that I'd love to see, would bridge his fascinations with theatre and film -- a definitive history of film adaptations of theatrical originals. and what about all those brilliant TV adaptations, like Judith Anderson's "Medea" or Meredith & Mostel in "Waiting for Godot," Scott & Dewhurst in "The Price" . Reading Ethan Mordden's books on Broadway musicals is like spending an evening sharing a conversation and a bottle of good wine with a brilliant, witty mind.

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