****Excellent ***Good **Fair *Poor : VIDEOCASSETTES

"The Beggar's Opera." Home Vision. $49.95. Resorting to his familiar, all-purpose BBC Shakespeare style, director Jonathan Miller offers pretentious pictorialism and crude histrionics in place of an incisive concept in this studio staging of John Gay's still-trenchant 1728 ballad opera. This time, there are tableaux out of Hogarth and a new ending for the opera (here Macheath does die). However, the flatly realized musical numbers (most of them shot in claustrophobic close-up) and muddled approach to the work's social satire leave even the best members of the large cast to their own (increasingly desperate) devices. Only Patricia Routledge (Mrs. Peachum) triumphs over the overstuffed, uncomprehending production. Rock 'n' roll refugee Roger Daltrey (Macheath) sings diligently but never sounds comfortable in this mock-classical idiom. Information: (800) 826-3456. **

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