Set in London's underworld, The Beggar's Opera is at oce a devasting satire on moral and financial corruption and a ground-breaking piece of theatre. Combining spoken dialogue with popular songs, Gay's play is in effect the first musical, and it was a threatrical sensation when it opened in London in 1728. -- Witty and fast-moving, its characters have become household names. Through the eternal triangle of Polly Peachum, the innocent but feisty heroine, Lucy Lockit, her wronged rival, and Machheath, their unreliable, irrepressible highwayman lover. Gay explores the pleasures and dangers of romantic and social aspiration. And in the figure of peachum, the double-dealing thief-taker, he embodies the rughless self-interest of his age and the fine line between respectability and criminality. -- This is the only student edition to repring the music as well as the words for the songs. The platext, in modern seplling, is fully annoted. A detailed introduction sets the play in context, expolring its innovative combinatin of classical and popular genres, its satiric meanings, and its stage history. --Book Jacket.