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This pair of pictures represents two scenes from Colley Cibber’s popular one-act opera. The shepherdess Phillida is in love with the handsome but fickle shepherd Damon. To her dismay, she is wooed by the boorish shepherds Mopsus and Cimon. The first picture shows Mopsus on his knees before her, while Phillida, played by the famous actress Kitty Clive, remains aloof. Cibber’s opera was conceived as an ‘after-piece’, the slight story little more than an excuse for the performance of popular ballads, along the lines of The Beggar’s Opera, by John Gay, which had taken London audiences by storm the previous year.

February 2004