Hyperion Records

The Brickdust Man
1772; A Musical Dialogue; orchestrated by Roger Fiske and Peter Holman
author of text

'Dibdin: Ephesian Matron, Brickdust Man & Grenadier' (CDA66608)
Dibdin: Ephesian Matron, Brickdust Man & Grenadier
No 1: Overture: Allegro – Gavotte
No 2. Air: I am a lad, by fortune's spright (John/Molly)
No 3. Air: Oh, Molly, I'm charmed when I come in your sight (John/Molly)
No 4. Air: Get you gone, you nasty fellow! (Molly/John)
No 5. Air: In short, dearest Moll, you alone were in fault (John/Molly)
No 6. Duet: Then let us agree (both)

The Brickdust Man
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 scene of The Brickdust Man is a street in the West End of London, then a fashionable residential area. There are references to St Giles's Church (near the present Tottenham Court Road tube station) and Tyburn Road (now Oxford Street). It concerns John, a street trader who sells powdered brick (used as a scourer, for making rouge, and for several other purposes) and Molly, a milkmaid. They believe each other to have been unfaithful, and after Molly has sung a rage aria (another parody of the opera seria type), they are reconciled in a gentle and melodious duet.

from notes by Peter Holman © 1992

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