Release Details

Release date: Mon, 2009-10-05
Release format: CD
UPC: 5060084 902381
Artist: L'Avventura London
Genre: Classical
Price: £13.99 + £1.00pp


Handel in the Playhouse is based on new musicological research. An unusually large number of Handel tunes have been discovered in comic 18th-century musical theatre pieces called ballad operas. Working in London in the 1730s, the authors of these theatre works (which included quality playwrights and writers such as novelist Henry Fielding) cleverly stole Handel's music from his fashionable operas and instrumental works, added new English texts, and used them in their own music theatre pieces.

The ballad operas, which included (among others) the timeless Beggar's Opera, were staged many hundred times more than even the most successful of Handel's Italian operas. They were performed ceaselessly in London and were huge hits in the provinces for over a century. It was these versions of Handel's music, according to scholars, that were the most well known among British middle-class audiences in the first half of the 18th century. It was also this music that made the composer popular as a national composer, as these very English ballad operas were successes years before Handel's oratorios were fashionable.

Audio previews

Click or press play to hear previews from this recording.


'The band is excellent...This is about the most interesting anniversary-inspired disc I’ve reviewed so far, and it’s well worth having.'- Early Music Review

‘Illuminating new venture for Handel’s anniversary year which shows him in quite a different light. It is the side of his musical influence in England about which most of us know little or nothing.'– BBC Radio 3’s CD Review with Andrew McGregor

'A fascinating insight into Handel and the English ballad opera tradition. L'Avventura show excellent musicianship...'-Gramophone

'Soprano Mary Bevan and bass [sic] Greg Tassell delightfully divest themselves of any airs and graces as they slum it on the provincial stage and bring snippets of Handel as he was probably best known to the much of the population... This is lots of fun, and a fresh take on a composer as well known as Handel is a rare thing these days.' - International Record Review

'Innovative project...The performances are fully in keeping with the nature of the genre...' (4 out of 5 stars) - BBC Music Magazine

'utterly captivating...' - Early Music

'Ik luisterde staande naar deze cd en was daarmee de zaken vooruit, want ik had er niet bij kunnen blijven zitten: dit is razend aanstekelijke Händel!'- Klassieke Zaken

'This program is an interesting idea that should have been thought of a long time ago…They play with gusto, and he has two fine singers to sing the airs and duets with clarity and flair. This is a really delightful program.' - American Record Guide

'L'Avventura London are expert and play well… It is interesting and amusing to see how some of Handel's contemporaries used his music in other contexts. I thoroughly enjoyed this recording'- Fanfare

'This intriguing and enjoyable disc...lively, attractive, and refreshingly different.'- Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

'This is an engaging, entertaining disc...' - Opera News

'Hört man das erste Mal diese CD, hat man fast den Verdacht, dass das die einzig richtige Interpretation von Händelschen Werken ist!' (5 out of 5 stars) -

'All in all a much needed antidote to the operas and oratorios we’ve been wading through this past year.' (4 out of 5 stars) - Early Music Today


1. March in Rinaldo (1711), after HWV 7a [1'11]
2. 'Some Confounded Planet Reigning' (The Lottery, 1732) [3'39]
3. 'Smile, Smile, my Chloe, Smile' (The Lottery, 1732) [2'32]
4. 'The Little Wanton God' (The Fashionable Lady, 1730) [3'59]
5. Allegro from Sonata in C Major, HWV 365 [2'02]
6. 'In Vain, In Vain, I Rove' (Silvia, or The Country Burial, 1731) [1'47]
7. 'How cruel are the Traitors' (The Beggar's Opera, 1728) [1'18]
8. Gigue from Suite III of Water Music (1717), HWV 350 [1'25]
9. 'Was Ever a Man Possest' (The Devil to Pay, 1732) [3'35]
10. 'Beauty's but a fading Flower' (Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1741) [1'20]
11. 'Why you little blind Contriver' (The False Guardians Outwitted, 1740) [1'19]
12. Overture from Rinaldo, HWV 7a [5'02]
13. 'Away with Suspicion' (Damon and Phillida, 1729) [1'45]
14. 'Brave Boys Prepare' (Polly, 1729) [3'21]
15. Bourée from Sonata for Oboe and Continuo, HWV363a [0'57]
16. 'Hence with tedious dull repining' (The Mad Captain, 1733) [1'47]
17. 'Abroad after Misses' (Polly) [1'37]
18. Variations for the Harpsichord to…the Gavot in Otho [3'29]
19. 'Women in vain Love's powerful Torrent' (The Lottery, 1732) [2'29]
20. 'Do not ask me if I love you' (The Devil of a Duke, 1732) [3'13]
21. 'Grant Mars, Grant us thy Fires' (The Mad Captain, 1733) [1'47]
22. 'Rigadon' from Suite III, HWV 350 [2'44]