Britten: The Beggar's Opera

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Benjamin Britten's 1948 version of "The Beggar's Opera" contains more of the original tunes assembled by John Gay for his 1728 ballad opera than most other modern versions. It also bears the most individualistic imprint of any modern version, to the extent that Britten is fully justified in designating it as his Op. 43. The orchestration is distinctively quirky; the chamber ensemble for which he arranged it is strikingly similar to that of "The Rape of Lucretia" and "Albert Herring," and it makes no attempt to disguise its twentieth century idiom. Harmonically, too, Britten lets his imagination run free, and his accompaniments are unmistakably modern. In his treatment of...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Benjamin Britten's 1948 version of "The Beggar's Opera" contains more of the original tunes assembled by John Gay for his 1728 ballad opera than most other modern versions. It also bears the most individualistic imprint of any modern version, to the extent that Britten is fully justified in designating it as his Op. 43. The orchestration is distinctively quirky; the chamber ensemble for which he arranged it is strikingly similar to that of "The Rape of Lucretia" and "Albert Herring," and it makes no attempt to disguise its twentieth century idiom. Harmonically, too, Britten lets his imagination run free, and his accompaniments are unmistakably modern. In his treatment of the folk, popular, and classical melodies to which Gay attached his lyrics, though, Britten is scrupulously faithful to the originals, retaining all the eccentricities that can sound quite odd to modern ears, and which tend to get smoothed out and made "prettier" in most modern editions of the work. Ballad opera is not a familiar genre, this being the only piece of its type that's performed with any frequency. It is more like a musical comedy than any kind of opera, but its brief snippets of dialogue alternating with brief songs, frequently a single verse, give it a stop-and-start quality that isn't immediately easy for contemporary audiences to relate to. There is considerable wit and innuendo in the text, which Britten's ingenious setting heightens, and plenty to appeal to adventurous listeners. This performance of the complete work, including dialogue which is delivered energetically throughout, makes a strong case for the piece. The singing overall is adequate, of the caliber expected of a Gilbert and Sullivan production. Tom Randle is a somewhat nasal Macheath with excessive vibrato, and Leah-Marian Jones a mature-sounding Polly, but veterans Jeremy White and Susan Bickley are in fine voice, and deliver splendidly vivid characterizations of Mr. and Mrs. Peachum. The City of London Sinfonia plays with precision and high spirits for Christian Curnyn, whose reading is well attuned to the humor and eccentricities in the score. Chandos' sound is clear and present, but doesn't do much to create a sense of dramatic space.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/27/2009
  • Label: Chandos
  • UPC: 095115154823
  • Catalog Number: 10548
  • Sales rank: 215,176

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–71 The Beggar's Opera, ballad opera - John Gay & Benjamin Britten (117:16)
    Composed byBenjamin Britten
    Conducted byChristian Curnyn
    Performed bySusan Bickley, Leah-Marian Jones, Donald Maxwell, Thomas Randle, Frances McCafferty, Clare McCaldin, Alison Place, Sarah Fox, Miranda Westcott, Bryn Evans, City of London Sinfonia, Christian Curnyn, Ben Thapa, Thomas Barnard, Katy Batho, Siobháin Gibson, Paul Hopwood, Kathryn Jenkin, Bernadette Lord, Katherine Paterson, Robert Anthony Gardiner, Mark Saberton, Aidan Smith, Sirena Tocco
    1. 1Introduction. If Poverty be a title to Poetry
    2. 2Overture -
    3. 3Act 1. No. 1. Through all the employments of life -
    4. 4Act 1. Sir, black Moll hath sent word -
    5. 5Act 1. No. 2. 'Tis Woman that seduces all Mankind -
    6. 6Act 1. But it is now high time to look about me -
    7. 7Act 1. Women indeed are bitter bad judges - / No. 3. ...ev'ry Man handsome who is going to the Camp
    8. 8Act 1. Was Captain Macheath here this morning? -
    9. 9Act 1. No. 4. If Love the Virgin's Heart invade -
    10. 10Act 1. No. 5. A Maid is like the Golden ore -
    11. 11Act 1. Come hither, Filch -
    12. 12Act 1. No. 6. I know as well as any of the fine ladies - / Virgins are like the fair flower in its
    13. 13Act 1. No. 7. Our Polly is a sad slut! -
    14. 14Act 1. No. 8. Can Love be controlled by Advice? -
    15. 15Act 1. No. 9. The girl shows such a readiness - / O Polly, you might have toyed and kissed -
    16. 16Act 1. No. 10. I, like a Ship in storms, was tossed -
    17. 17Act 1. No. 11. A fox may steal your hens, Sir -
    18. 18Act 1. No. 12. O ponder well! be not severe -
    19. 19Act 1. No. 13. The Turtle thus with plaintive crying, her Lover dying -
    20. 20Act 1. No. 14. Melodrama. Now I'm a wretch indeed! -
    21. 21Act 1. No. 15. My heart was so free -
    22. 22Act 1. No. 16. Were I laid on Greenland's coast -
    23. 23Act 1. No. 17. O! what pain it is to part! -
    24. 24Act 1. No. 18. The Miser thus a shilling sees -
    25. 25Act 1. But pr'thee, Mat, what is become of thy brother Tom -
    26. 26Act 1. No. 19. Fill ev'ry glass, for wine inspires us -
    27. 27Act 1. Gentlemen, well met -
    28. 28Act 1. No. 20. I shall wish myself with you - / Let us take the road -
    29. 29Act 1. No. 21. If the heart of a man is depressed with cares -
    30. 30Act 1. No. 22. Dear Mrs Coaxer, you are welcome - / Youth's the season made for joys -
    31. 31Act 1. Now pray, ladies, take your places -
    32. 32Act 1. No. 23. It is your own choice - / Before the barn-door crowing -
    33. 33Act 1. No. 24. But to be sure, Sir - / The Gamesters and Lawyers are jugglers alike -
    34. 34Act 1. The gentleman, ladies, lodges in Newgate - / No. 25. Constables, wait upon the Captain to hi
    35. 35Act 2. Noble Captain, you are welcome -
    36. 36Act 2. No. 26. Man may escape from rope and gun -
    37. 37Act 2. No. 27. Thus when a good Housewife sees a rat -
    38. 38Act 2. No. 28. It is the pleasure of all you fine men - / How cruel are the traytors -
    39. 39Act 2. No. 29. The first time at the looking glass -
    40. 40Act 2. In this last affair, brother Peachum, we are agreed -
    41. 41Act 2. No. 30. Such language, brother, anywhere else - / When you censure the age -
    42. 42Act 2. No. 31. Is then his fate decreed, Sir? -
    43. 43Act 2. Though the Chaplain was out of the way to-day -
    44. 44Act 2. No. 32. Thus when the Swallow seeking prey -
    45. 45Act 2. If women's tongues can cease for an answer - / No. 33. I will not! - / How happy could I be
    46. 46Act 2. No. 34. Cease your funning -
    47. 47Act 2. No. 35. Why how now, Madam Flirt! -
    48. 48Act 2. No. 36. No power on earth can e'er divide
    49. 49Act 3. To be sure, wench, you must have been aiding and abetting -
    50. 50Act 3. Dear Sir, mention not my education - / No. 37. When young at the bar you first taught me to
    51. 51Act 3. No. 38. Ungrateful Macheath! - / My love is all madness and folly -
    52. 52Act 3. No. 39. Thus Gamesters united in friendship are found -
    53. 53Act 3. No. 40. Our scene doth represent a Gaming House - / The modes of the Court so common are gro
    54. 54Act 3. The Coronation account, brother Peachum - / No. 41. Keep a watchful eye on Polly - / What Gu
    55. 55Act 3. No. 42. In the days of my youth I could bill like a dove -
    56. 56Act 3. No. 43a. In the days of my youth I could bill like a dove -
    57. 57Act 3. No. 43b. Jealousy, rage, love and fear - / I'm like a Skiff on the Ocean tossed -
    58. 58Act 3. I have the Rat's-bane ready -
    59. 59Act 3. No. 44. A curse attends a woman's love -
    60. 60Act 3. When I was forced from him - / No. 45. But perhaps he hath a heart not capable of it - / Amo
    61. 61Act 3. No. 46. Come, sweet lass -
    62. 62Act 3. No. 47. Now every glimmering of happiness is lost -
    63. 63Act 3. No. 48. Which way shall I turn me, how can I decide? -
    64. 64Act 3. Dear, dear Sir, sink the material evidence - / No. 49. Polly upon her knees begs it of you -
    65. 65Act 3. No. 50. How then can you be a tyrant to me - / When he holds up his hand arraigned for his l
    66. 66Act 3. No. 51. Ourselves, like the Great, to secure a retreat -
    67. 67Act 3. We are ready, Sir,... - / No. 52. ...to conduct you to the Old Bailey! - / The Charge is pre
    68. 68Act 3. No. 53. Scena. O cruel, cruel case! -
    69. 69Act 3. No. 54. Would I might be hanged! -
    70. 70Act 3. But surely you won't intend that Macheath shall really by executed? -
    71. 71Act 3. No. 55. Thus I stand like a Turk, with his doxies around
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Christian Curnyn Primary Artist
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