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The Beggar's Opera The Beggar's Opera | Photo: Patrick Berger

The Beggar's Opera

Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord / William Christie / Robert Carsen / Ian Burton

John Gay’s 18th-century opera is brought into the modern day in this brand new production by two commanding figures of the international stage.

Swarming with highwaymen, thieves, jailors, pimps and prostitutes, John Gay’s savagely satirical and wildly entertaining ‘ballad opera’ invites you into a world of greed, crime, poverty, inequality – and outrageous comedy. Where politicians and officials are just as corrupt as the lowlife below them. And where, if you want to get ahead, all you can do is join them.

Devious gangmaster Peachum is a scammer: he shops criminals to the law, while pocketing the proceeds of their crimes himself. When he discovers that his daughter Polly has secretly married notorious highwayman Macheath, Peachum conspires with his prostitute wife to have Macheath hanged – and make off with his ill-gotten money himself. But they reckoned without Lucy Lockit, daughter of Newgate Prison’s corrupt jailor – herself jilted by Macheath and out for revenge.

This brand new production from Paris’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, resident company at the 2018 International Festival, has been created by two commanding figures across international stages.

Director Robert Carsen has worked in many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and theatres. The production’s original music direction is by William Christie, a pioneering figure in early music and founder of virtuosic Baroque ensemble Les Arts Florissants.

With an eminent international cast of actor-singers, plus period musicians from Les Arts Florissants, this brand new, contemporary take on Gay’s work delves deeply into the opera’s pungent world of dark wit and double standards – a Beggar’s Opera very much for our own turbulent times. The Beggar's Opera is part of the residency of the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord at the 2018 International Festival.

★★★★★ 'very funny, even if you daren’t laugh too long at one thing for fear of missing the next'
The Herald

★★★★ 'all great fun and the new version adds spice for a 21st-century audience'
British Theatre Guide

'still retains its acidic bite and scurrilous wit' 
Seen and Heard International

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refreshing and invigorating


dazzling troupe of performers

La Croix

Contains strong language
Songs performed in English with English supertitles
Audio Described
19 Aug 2.30pm

Robert Carsen Stage direction
William Christie Musical direction
James Brandily Set designer
Petra Reinhardt Costume designer
Rebecca Howell Choreographer 
Robert Carsen, Peter Van Praet Lighting designers
Ian Burton Dramaturg

Musicians from Les Arts Florissants
Florian Carré Director and harpsichord

Cast includes Robert Burt, Beverley Klein, Kate Batter, Benjamin Purkiss, Kraig Thornber, Olivia Brereton, Emma Kate Nelson, Sean Lopeman, Gavin Wilkinson, Taite-Elliot Drew, Wayne Fitzsimmons, Dominic Owen, Natasha Leaver, Emily Dunn, Louise Dalton, Jocelyn Prah

Ballad opera by John Gay and Johann Christoph Pepusch
In a new version by Ian Burton and Robert Carsen

A co-production between Edinburgh International Festival, Les Arts Florissants with the help of CA-CIB, Angers Nantes Opéra, Opéra de Rennes, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Opéra Royal / Château de Versailles Spectacles, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Théâtre de Caen, Festival di Spoleto, Centre Lyrique Clermont-Auvergne, Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège, Opéra de Reims / La Comédie de Reims CDN, Teatro Coccia, Teatro Verdi, Attiki Cultural Society, Cercle des Partenaires des Bouffes du Nord. Set Construction Angers Nantes Opéra.

With the generous support of KT Wong Foundation. 

Production C.I.C.T. – Theatre des Bouffes du Nord

More information about some of the artists:

Les Arts Florissants
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Robert Carsen

William Christie

16-19 August 2018

This event was part of a previous International Festival and is therefore unavailable to book or watch. The 2021 programme will be announced in June.

With thanks to our supporters

Supported by

Binks Trust