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CHAN 10548M
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CHAN 10548
(multiple CD Set)

Britten: The Beggar's Opera

The Classical Shop
release date: October 2009

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2009


City of London Sinfonia

Christian Curnyn

Donald Maxwell

baritone - Lockit

Jeremy White

bass-baritone - Mr Peachum

Sirena Tocco


Frances McCafferty

mezzo-soprano - Mrs Diana Trapes

Susan Bickley

mezzo-soprano - Mrs Peachum

Leah-Marian Jones

mezzo-soprano - Polly Peachum

Sarah Fox

soprano - Lucy Lockit

Thomas Randle

tenor - Captain Macheath

Robert Anthony Gardiner

tenor - Filch


Blackheath Halls, London


Rachel Smith

Brian Couzens



Ralph Couzens

Jonathan Cooper


Record Label



Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 117:11
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The Beggar's Opera, Op. 43 (1947-48)

  Ballad Opera in three acts  
  Realised from the original airs of John Gay's ballad opera (1728)  
  Words by John Gay (1685-1732)  
  with alterations and additions by Tyrone Guthrie (1900-1971)  
  Full score prepared for publication by David Matthews  
  Dedicated to James Lawrie  
1 Introduction 1:19
  Beggar: 'If Poverty be a title to Poetry'  
2 Overture - 4:24
  Act I 47:00      
3 1 Peachum: 'Through all the employments of life' - 1:18
4 Filch: 'Sir, black Moll hath sent word' - 0:42
  with Peachum  
5 2 Filch: ''Tis Woman that seduces all Mankind' - 1:17
  with Mrs Peachum  
6 Peachum: 'But it is now high time to look about me' - 1:12
  with Mrs Peachum  
7 Mrs Peachum: 'Women indeed are b itter bad judges' - 0:52
  3 Mrs Peachum: '…ev'ry Man handsome who is going to the Camp' -  
  Mrs Peachum: 'If any wench Venus' Girdle wear' -  
8 Peachum: 'Was Captain Macheath here this morning?' - 0:54
  with Mrs Peachum  
9 4 Mrs Peachum: 'If Love the Virgin's Heart invade' - 1:52
  with Peachum  
10 5 Mrs Peachum: 'A Maid is like the Golden ore' - 0:29
11 Mrs Peachum: 'Come hither, Filch' - 0:59
  with Filch  
12 6 Polly: 'I know as well as any of the fine ladies' - 2:22
  Polly: 'Virgins are like the fair flower in its lustre' -  
  with Peachum  
13 7 Mrs Peachum: 'Our Polly is a sad slut!' - 1:19
  with Omnes, Peachum, Polly  
14 8 Polly: 'Can Love be controlled by Advice?' - 1:17
  with Mrs Peachum, Peachum  
15 9 Mrs Peachum: 'The girls shows such a readiness' - 2:17
  Mrs Peachum: 'O Polly, you might have toyed and kissed' -  
  with Polly, Omnes, Peachum  
16 10 Polly: 'I, like a Ship in storms, was tossed' - 0:53
  with Mrs Peachum, Peachum  
17 11 Peachum and Mrs Peachum: 'A fox may steal your hens, Sir' - 1:45
  with Polly  
18 12 Polly: 'O ponder well! Be not severe' - 0:48
  with Mrs Peachum  
19 13 Polly: 'The Turtle thus with plaintive crying, her Lover dying' - 1:51
  with Mrs Peachum, Peachum  
20 14 Melodrame. Polly: 'Now I'm a wretch indeed!' - 3:02
  with Omnes, Macheath  
21 15 Macheath: 'My heart was so free' - 0:48
  with Polly  
22 16 Macheath: 'Were I laid on Greenland's coast' - 1:59
  with Polly, Omnes  
23 17 Polly: 'O! what pain it is to part!' - 0:55
  with Macheath  
24 18 Macheath: 'The Miser thus a shilling sees' - 2:25
  with Polly  
25 Ben Budge: 'But pr'thee, Mat, what is become of thy brother Tom?' - 0:41
  with Mat of the Mint, Jemmy Twitcher, Nimming Ned, Harry Paddington, Wat Dreary  
26 19 Gentlemen of the Road: 'Fill ev'ry glassd, for wine inspires us' - 0:49
27 Macheath: 'Gentlemen, well met' - 0:37
  with Mat of the Mint  
28 20 Macheath: 'I shall wish myself with you' - 1:49
  Tenor Solo (Harry Paddington): 'Let us take the road' -  
  with Gentlemen of the Road  
29 21 Macheath: 'If the heart of a man is depressed with cares' - 2:05
30 22 Macheath: 'Dear Mrs Coaxer, you are welcome' - 4:35
  Macheath: 'Youth's the season made for joys' -  
  with Ladies of the Town  
31 Macheath: 'Now pray, ladies, take your places' - 0:54
  with Jenny Diver, Mrs Coaxer  
32 23 Jenny Diver: 'It is your own choice' - 1:32
  Jenny Diver: 'Before the vbarn-door crowing' -  
  with Ladies of the Town, Macheath, Dolly Trull, Suky Tawdry  
33 24 Jenny Diver: 'But to be sure, Sir' - 1:39
  Ladies of the Town: 'The Gamesters and the Lawyers are jugglers alike' -  
  with Betty Doxy, Macheath, Peachum  
34 Peachum: 'The gentlemen, ladies, lodgegs in Newgate' - 0:44
  25 Peachum: 'Constables, wait upon the Captain to his lodgings' -  
  Macheath: 'At the Tree I shall suffer with pleasure'  
  Act II 22:53      
35 Lockit: 'Noble Captain, you are welcome' - 0:53
  with Macheath  
36 26 Macheath: 'Man may escape from rope and gun' - 3:28
  with Lucy Lockit  
37 27 Lucy Lockit: 'Thus when a good Housewife sees a rat' - 0:44
  with Macheath  
38 28 Lucy Lockit: 'It is the pleasdure of all you fine men' - 2:32
  Lucy Lockit: 'How cruel are the traytors' -  
  with Macheath  
39 29 Macheath: 'The first time at the looking glass' - 1:13
  with Lucy Lockit  
40 Lockt: 'In this last affair, brother Peachum, we are agreed' - 0:45
  with Peachum  
41 30 Lockit: 'Such language, brother, anywhere else' - 1:07
  Lockit: 'When you censure the age' -  
  with Lucy Lockit  
42 31 Lucy Lockit: 'Is then his fate decreed, Sir?' - 1:42
  with Lockit  
43 Lucy Lockit: 'Though the Chaplain was out of the way to-day' - 1:09
  with Macheath, Polly  
44 32 Polly: 'Thus when the Swallow seeking prey' - 1:54
  with Macheath, Lucy Lockit  
45 Macheath: 'If women's tongues can cease for an answer' - 1:26
  33 Lucy Lockit: 'I will not!' -  
  Macheath: 'How happy could I be with either' -  
  Polly: 'I'm bubbled, Oh how I am troubled!' -  
46 34 Polly: 'Cease your funning' - 2:48
  with Omnes, Macheath, Lucy Lockit  
47 35 Lucy Lockit: 'Why how now, Madam Flirt!' - 1:05
  with Polly, Peachum, Lockit  
48 36 Lucy Lockit and Polly: 'Now power on earth can e'er divide' 2:00
  with Macheath, Lockit, Peachum, Omnes  
  Act III 42:14      
49 Lockit: 'To be sure, wench, you must have been aiding and abetting' - 0:49
  with Lucy Lockit  
50 Lucy Lockit: 'Dear Sir, mention not my education' - 3:19
  37 Lucy Lockit: 'When young at the bar you first taught me to score' -  
  with Lockit  
51 38 Lucy Lockit: 'Ungrateful Macheath!' - 1:06
  Lucy Lockit: 'My love is all madness and folly' -  
  with Lockit  
52 39 Lockit: 'Thus Gamesters united in friendship are found' - 1:43
53 40 Beggar: 'Our scene doth represent a Gaming House' - 2:43
  Macheath: 'The modes of the Court so common are grown' -  
  with Ben Budge, Mat of the Mint, Omnes  
54 Lockit: 'The Coronation account, brother Peachum' - 2:14
  41 Lockit: 'Keep a watchful eye on Polly' -  
  Lockit: 'What Gudgeons are we men!' -  
  with Peachum, Servant, Mrs Trapes  
55 42 Mrs Trapes: 'In the days of my youth I could bill like a dove' - 2:21
  with Lockit, Peachum  
56 43a Mrs Trapes: 'In the days of my yough I could bill like a dove' - 0:39
  with Beggar  
57 43b Lucy Lockit: 'Jealousy, rage, love and fear' - 1:07
  Lucy Lockit: 'I'm like a Skiff on the Ocean tossed' -  
58 Lucy Lockit: 'I have the Rat's-bane ready' - 2:12
  with Filch, Polly  
59 44 Polly: 'A curse attends a woman's love' - 1:38
  with Lucy Lockit  
60 Polly: 'When I was forced from him' - 1:02
  45 Polly: 'But perhaps he hath a heart not capable of it' -  
  Polly: 'Among the men Coquets we find' -  
  with Lucy Lockit  
61 46 Lucy Lockit: 'Come, sweet lass' - 1:55
  with Polly  
62 47 Polly: 'Now every glimmering of happiness is lost' - 1:45
  with Lucy Lockit, Macheath, Peachum  
63 48 Macheath: 'Which way shall I turn me, how can I decide?' - 0:40
  with Polly  
64 Polly: 'Dear, dear Sir, sink the material evidence' - 1:53
  49 Polly: 'Polly upon her knees begs it of you' -  
  Polly: 'When my Hero in court appears' -  
  with Lucy Lockit  
65 50 Lucy Lockit: 'How then can you be a tyrant to me' - 2:00
  Lucy Lockit: 'When he holds up his hand arraigned for his life' -  
  with Lockit  
66 51 Lockit and Peachum: 'Ourselves, like the Great, to secure a retreat' - 0:44
67 Lockit: 'We are ready, Sir…' - 1:54
  52 Lockit: '…to conduct you to the Old Bailey!'  
  Lucy Lockit, Polly, Macheath, Lockit, Peachum and Omnes: 'The Charge is prepared; the Lawyers are met' -  
  with Mrs Peachum  
68 53 Scena. Macheath: 'O cruel, cruel case!' - 5:10
  with Jailer  
69 54 Polly: 'Would I might b e hanged!' - 1:58
  with Lucy Lockit, Macheath  
70 Mat of the Mint: 'But surely you don't intend that Macheath shall really be executed?' - 1:18
  with Beggar, Ben Budge, Lucy Lockit, Polly, Lockit, Peachum  
71 55 Macheath: 'Thus I stand like a Turk, with his doxies around' 1:51
  with Mrs Peachum, Peachum, Ladies of the Town, Gentlemen of the Road, Lucy Lockit, Polly, Mrs Trapes, Lockit  
 Susan Bickley mezzo-soprano - Mrs Peachum
 Jeremy White bass-baritone - Mr Peachum
 Leah-Marian Jones mezzo-soprano - Polly Peachum
 Thomas Randle tenor - Captain Macheath
 Robert Anthony Gardiner tenor - Filch
 Donald Maxwell baritone - Lockit
 Sarah Fox soprano - Lucy Lockit
 Frances McCafferty mezzo-soprano - Mrs Diana Trapes
 Sirena Tocco beggar
 Christian Curnyn
  1-4 February 2009  

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


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

Christopher Dingle

BBC Music Magazine - December 2009

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