Gilbert Blin

Opera Director & Designer

The Dragon of Wantley

John Frederick Lampe (1703–1751)

“The Dragon of Wantley” is a ballad opera composed by John Frederick Lampe with a libretto by Henry Carey. It was first performed in 1737 at the Haymarket Theatre in London. The opera is a comedic and satirical work that parodies the popular operatic conventions of the time. Gilbert Blin will stage this opera for the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera Series.

John Frederick Lampe

Louis-Jean Desprez, La Chimère, Collection Gilbert Blin

Boston Early Music Festival

Chamber Opera Series

NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston

November 25, 2023

Box Office Information


Paul O’Dette, Musical Director

Stephen Stubbs, Musical Director

Gilbert Blin, Stage Director

Robert Mealy, Concertmaster

Melinda Sullivan, Choreography

Seth Bodie, Costume Designer

Jason McStoots, Assistant Stage Director

The Dragon of Wantley

The story revolves around the fictional character of Moore of Moore Hall, who is tasked with defending the town of Wantley from a fearsome dragon. The dragon, named Asparagus, has been terrorizing the town and devouring its inhabitants. Moore, aided by his trusty sidekick, Margery, takes on the challenge of slaying the dragon and saving the townspeople.

“The Dragon of Wantley” combines elements of English folklore, mythology, and social commentary. It uses witty dialogue, lively music, and humorous situations to entertain the audience. The opera was well-received during its initial run and remained popular throughout the 18th century.

Ballad Opera

Lampe’s composition for “The Dragon of Wantley” features a blend of traditional English folk tunes and Italian opera styles, reflecting the influence of both genres on 18th-century English musical theater. The opera’s success contributed to the growing popularity of ballad opera, a genre that incorporated popular songs and spoken dialogue.

While the fame of “The Dragon of Wantley” has diminished over time, it remains a notable work within the history of English ballad opera. Its humorous and light-hearted nature, combined with Lampe’s musical talent, continues to make it an intriguing piece of entertainment from the 18th century.



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