In the 18th century in
originated a new stage entertainment (= intrattenimento), the ballad opera, or comic opera which continued developing ( = a svilupparsi) in the following centre. It was born as a challenge (= sfida) to the Italian and German operas which were triumphing in the English theatres.
These operas are usually stories based on dialogues intermingled (= intramezzate) with short songs – a stanza or a refrain (=ritornello) – which give moment of relief in the flow of a narrative rich in events and surprising turns (= svolte).
They usually involve lower classes, criminal, strange character, and typically shows an inversion of the high moral values taught by the Italian opera of the period.
The most famous example is the satiric dance opera The Beggar’s Opera composed by J. C. Pepusch and elaborated on a script by John Gay. It will be the source for the homonymous Brecht’s work.