Charles Dibdin

Theatrical opera at its best were the products of Charles Dibdin. As a poet, novelist, composer, actor, singer and entertainer it can easily be understood how theatrical musical scores were his forte. It is important to note that most of his successful pantomimes, operettas and theatrical productions were composed by the time he was 25. His truculent behaviour, poor demeanor, ascerbic mannerisms (not to mention the debts that befell him), and apparent arrogance, needless to say, got in his way. Dibdin's compositions had been refreshing, pleasant, and galant. He was one of the few artisans to compose and write the librettos for his own works. Eventually, with his ill-humor, his music became entrenched with his attitudes; it was as if "his" enterprise of writing should be enough. Despite these mannerisms Dibdin's songs in the last decade of the 18th century were numerous and popular. The songs were trenchantly biased. "Lionel and Clarissa" was his most accomplished work with a libretto by Bickerstaffe. "Love in a Village" was his most successful composition and includes an action paced scene with the heroine singing and fighting simultaneously. This was a first for the English stage. Dibdin was a prolific composer and wrote an exhaustive amount of playhouse operas, pantomimes, pieces for the Royal Circus, table entertainments and a variety of songs. Written works include "The Professional Life of Mr. Dibdin," "A Complete History of the English Stage," and "Hannah Hewit, or the Female Crusoe". ~ Keith Johnson

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