Opera Hat (The)

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OPERA HAT, THE. AKA and see "Bang It Up," "Coco Bram," "Russian Dance." English, Country Dance Tune (2/4 time). G Major: D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A country dance tune that appears in several early 19th century English musicians' music manuscript collections, including those of John Clare (1793–1864, Helpston, Northamptonshire), Thomas Sands (Lincolnshire, c. 1810), John Moore (1837–40, Shropshire), and William Calvert (Leyburn, Yorkshire, 1812). The tune is almost identical with "A Russian Dance," also found in the manuscripts of Moore, Calvert and Sands. The melody and often dance instructions for "The Russian Dance; or, Opera Hat" were printed in a number of early 19th century publications, including George Willig's Collection of Popular Country Dances (Philadelphia, 1812), Edward Riley's Flute Melodies vol. 1 (New York, 1814), J. Balls' Gentleman's Amusement Book 3 (London, c. 1815), and E. Goodale's The Instrumental Director (1819). The country dance is mentioned in Adam Waldie's "The Gurney Papers," published in The Select Circulating Library (1837, vol. 10, Part 2, p. 231):

...and into the house I came again, when to my horror I heard a sound certainly most unexpected by me at such a moment—that of the tuning of a fiddle in the drawing-room next to my wife's bedchamber. I stepped up the stairs, astounded at such a circumstance, and there beheld Mr. Kittington, the dancing-master, just in the act of beginning the then popular country dance of the "Opera Hat," that being fixed for the first practice of the before-breakfast lesson to the young ladies.

Under the title "Bang It Up," a version appears in the mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork uilleann piper and Church of Ireland cleric James Goodman [1]. See also the 6/8 time "New Opera Hat," a different tune that has also appeared as "Opera Hat" in a few manuscripts.

Source for notated version: a c. 1837–1840 MS by Shropshire musician John Moore [Ashman].

Printed sources: Ashman (Ironbridge Hornpipe), 1991; No. 13b, p. 2. J. Ball (The Gentleman's Amusement Book 3), London, c. 1815; p. 36. Riley (Flute Melodies, vol. 1), 1814; p. 62. Sutherland (Macleod's Collection, vol. 1), c. 1815; p. 37.

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