Opera Scotland

Charles Dibdin Suggest updates

Born Southampton, (bapt) 4 March 1745.

Died London, 25 July 1814.

English composer, singer and publisher.

Charles Dibdin had a long career as singer and composer. His success was only ever short-lived, largely due to his argumentative nature. He composed a huge number of small scale stage works or dialogues. He also produced some ballad operas. Some of the music in these was original, but he also followed the standard practice of the day by interpolating existing music, both from the folk repertoire and from the hands of other composers. These were produced both at Covent Garden and at the fashionable pleasure gardens, such as Ranelagh. He also turned out great quantities of individual songs, notably those connected with the sea, of which 'Tom Bowling' deservedly remains famous.

While substantial numbers of his compositions have been lost altogether, others have survived incomplete. The Waterman is the most successful of his stage works, remaining in the repertoire for over a century. He took a number of the songs he had composed for Ranelagh, and brought them together attached to his own original libretto in the form of a short ballad opera.

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