The Beggar’s Opera – una satira politica del 1700

The Beggar’s Opera (1728) is a ballad opera with 68 songs which follows the popular Italian opera. The music was probably arranged by Johann Christoph Pepusch and inspired by J. Swift.
The title is because The Beggar – the author of the tale – introduces the play.
It tells the story of a love triangle between the highwayman Macheath, Polly, the daughter of  Peachum, a fence (=ricettatore),  and Lucy,  the jailer’s (= carceriere) daughter, who is waiting for Macheath’s child. Peachum discovers the marriage of Macheath and his daughter, Polly. At first he is despaired, then determines to have Macheath sent to Newgate and to get the reward (=ricompensa). Polly warns (= avverte) Macheath, but he is betrayed by a prostitute and is imprisoned in Newgate. Lucy finds him there and being assured by Macheath that the marriage was all in Polly’s mind (= mente), helps him to escape. Macheath is again captured and is sentenced to be hung (= impiccato). As he is to be hung , the jailor (= secondino) brings in four other wives, with their children. For Macheath this is too much and says he is ready to be hanged. At this point the author (the Beggar) is persuaded to change the ending from a hanging to a happy ending. Accordingly Macheath has to live with one wife only (Polly).
The satire of the play has a double allegory. The characters of Peachum and Macheath represent the famous gangster Jonathan Wild and the burglar (= ladro) Jack Sheppard. At the same time, Jonathan Wild represented Robert Walpole, whose government had been tolerant of Wild’s thievery (= furti) and the South Sea directors’ escape from punishment.
Gay clearly confessed that, in describing the moral code of his characters, he had in mind the corruptions of the governing class.