The Brickdust Man
and The Grenadier
belong to a group of short 'musical dialogues' written by Dibdin in the 1770s for Sadler's Wells, then a summer resort outside London. Spoken plays were also forbidden at Sadler's Wells which specialised at the time in popular variety shows with dancing, conjuring, songs and aquatic displays designed to appeal to a middle-class audience. So they have recitative rather than dialogue, and in them the world of the commedia dell'arte
is transformed into contemporary London. The Grenadier
is set below stairs. Ralph suspects, with good reason, that Jenny is being unfaithful to him. She sends him on a fool's errand, and when he is out of the way his soldier-rival appears. Ralph returns and catches them together but soon relinquishes his claim to the girl when the grenadier threatens him with his sword.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1992