The term ballad opera is used to refer to a genre of English stage entertainment originating in the 18th century and continuing to develop in the following century and later … its distinguishing characteristic is the use of tunes in a popular style (either pre-existing or newly composed) with spoken dialogue. These English plays were ‘operas’ mainly insofar as they satirized the conventions of the imported opera seria.

Cambridge History of English and American Literature Useful explanation of ballad opera and its use in English theatre history, with discussion on John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera as an exmaple of the form.

Dallas Baptist University Brief explanation of Ballad Opera.

InfoPlease Brief definition for Ballad Opera.

University of Arizona Lecture outline bullet pointing the key characteristics of a Ballad Opera.

University of Michigan Excellent article on the Ballad Opera genre and Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera.

Virginia Opera Useful definition of Ballad Opera.

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