Shopping Basket
Cat. No. CHAN 10548(2) Price: £21 No. of discs: 2
CD Logo
CHAN 10548 - Britten: The Beggar's Opera
Download Hi-Res Artwork
Download Booklet as a PDF
This product is also available as a download from
We are currently in the process of launching our new web site, until this goes live:
please order this CD directly from our sales team: (+44)01206 225200

Audio Sample

Available From: 01 October 2009
Britten: The Beggar's Opera

The popularity of Britten’s three chamber operas proper (The Rape of Lucretia, Albert Herring and The Turn of the Screw) has tended to somewhat overshadow his brilliant adaptation of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, the realisation of which was completed in 1948.

First seen in 1728, this original ballad opera weaving popular tunes of the day from England, Scotland and Ireland (with some Handel and Purcell thrown in) as it depicted the goings-on in London’s criminal underworld.  Many different versions have been made of The Beggar’s Opera, but Britten’s version, from 1948, stands out through its skilful, sensitive treatment of the original music realized from the original airs.  Britten’s interest in The Beggar’s Opera as a vehicle for the newly-formed English Opera Group stemmed naturally from his love of folk-song.  Britten used 66 of the original 69 airs and twice combined two of the songs.  He described the airs as “the most characteristically English of any of our folk-songs.”

In January 2009 The Royal Opera presented a new production directed by Justin Way, featuring a strong cast of Royal Opera performers including Tom Randle as Macheath, Jeremy White as Peachum, Leah-Marian Jones’s as Polly and Sarah Fox as Lucy.  They are ably accompanied by the City of London Sinfonia, conducted by Christian Curnyn.  This recording was made between these performances. 

The Stage noted ‘The cast is beyond reproach. Jeremy White sings, acts and delivers his dialogue as Peachum with equal naturalness, Leah-Marian Jones struts her stuff uninhibitedly as Polly and Sarah Fox as Macheath’s other lovestruck devotee, Lucy Lockit, sings affectingly, not least in her If Love’s a Sweet Passion. But Tom Randle truly anchors the cast. He gives Macheath a somehow likeable sheen, impressing as much with his vocal and acting talents and, before the philanderer’s sudden reprieve at the opera’s end, elicits genuine pity as a condemned man.’ The Stage


"…This is the current set of choice”
Warren Keith Wright

Opera Magazine - June 2010

“… It is a total delight from hilarious dialogue to idiomatically sung songs. Diction is quite good too. It is raunchy, but not offensive-after all, this is Britain, not Germany. Low-class accents are all in place, and the singing is excellent-a good balance of operatic and popular styles.”
Charles H Parsons

American Record Guide - March/April 2010

“...the score is fierily conducted by Christian Curnyn. Tom Randle’s plays Macheath so seductively that we understand exactly why Sarah Fox’s Lucy and Leah-Marian Jones’s Polly are continuously fighting over him. Listen out, also for Frances McCarrerty’s glorious Mrs Trapes and Donald Maxwell’s superlative Lockitt."
Tim Ashley

The Guardian - 13 November 2009

“Curnyn continues Chandos’s Britten opera cycle in fine style”
Richard Fairman

Gramophone - November 2009

"There are so few recordings of Britten’s version of The Beggar’s Opera that this attractively packaged release on the Chandos label is immediately a very welcome addition. It is also a superb performance as we have come to expect from the Curnyn-Chandos partnership, which has been growing from strength to strength since their release of Handel’s Partenope recorded back in 2004.
Christian Curnyn is, of course, a name firmly associated with Handel’s operas but in this recording he shows that his detailed and quick-witted performance style is transferable across the ages. His cast is well chosen too; …on this disc Tom Randle oozes both masculinity and naturalness in this character. Susan Bickley is particularly enjoyable as Mrs Peachum (think Peggy Mitchell with attitude) and the Ladies of the Town and Gentlemen of the Road give really spirited performances. …Curnyn keeps the music moving along to prevent the spoken word from stagnating, and throughout the album he brings many of Britten’s inspired and beautiful orchestral textures to life in an impressive way. 
… this performance captures a wonderful sense of fun and it is certainly most enjoyable throughout."
Ed Breen

Musical Criticism.com

“… some wonderful singing, supported by often delectable playing from the City of London Sinfonia under Christian Curnyn…”
Christopher Dingle

BBC Music Magazine - December 2009


Home : Classical Music Special Offers [Competitions] : Search [Browse : Catalogue : Advanced] : Your Account
Contact [Email Us : Call Us : Write To Us] :
Help [Troubleshooting : How To Order : Music Licensing.]
: The Site Map : Web Links: Complete Listing
: :