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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

“Croaks into Song” puts Sondheim’s Frogs into the context of his other work. His music adds informed commentary. Sondheim is the most modern and insightful of present-day composers of musicals, skillfully reflecting not only the blackness of the times, but adding doubts about the future. Sondheim often turns to the classics, so Aristophanes’s The Frogs, with its descent into Hades, was a natural choice. His work concludes with a hymn to death and praise for the way of life in Hades. There is political criticism, like the Aristophanic original: disparaging the insanity of war and know-nothing politicians, along with their followers who, like frogs, sing repetitious choruses. Rather than Aeschylus competing against Euripides, as in Aristophane’ play, here Shakespeare debates Shaw, yet some of the same artistic issues are raised.

Keywords: Sondheim, Aristophanes, Frogs, Shakespeare, Shaw, political satire, musicals based on the classics, classical reception

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