Thomas Walker

(1698—1744) actor and playwright

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(b London, 5 June 1698; d Dublin, 5 June 1744). English singer, actor and author. He acted in London from 1715, specializing in handsome daredevil roles such as Hotspur. Although untrained as a singer, he was given the role of Macheath in The Beggar's Opera (1728) during rehearsals, when he was heard singing some of the airs behind the scenes. Walker is depicted as Macheath in William Hogarth's painting of the scene in Newgate Prison (A Scene from the Beggar's Opera, c.1728, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC). W. R. Chetwood wrote that after his success as Macheath he ‘follow'd Bacchus too ardently, insomuch that his Credit was often drown'd upon the Stage’. He sang in a few other ballad operas and held on to his roles until 1739. His career then collapsed and he died in poverty. His own ballad opera, The Quaker's Opera, was performed in 1728.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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