Handel at the Playhouse

Flyer Handel

L’Avventura London, founded and directed by Žak Ozmo, is a period-instrument ensemble dedicated to the exploration of Western musical repertoire from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. Varying in size from a chamber group to a full-size orchestra, L’Avventura London regularly works with singers and other guest artists and consists of some of the most talented and innovative musicians from the professional London early music circle.

Nathalie Chalkley, soprano, and Greg Tassell, tenor (Guest Artists)
Ivana Cetkovic, baroque violin
Emily Baines, recorders
Natasha Kraemer, baroque cello
David Gordon, harpsichord
Žak Ozmo, archlute, baroque guitar, director

All of tonight’s music was extracted from a popular genre of eighteenth-century British musical comedy called ballad opera, and all of it was originally composed by George Frideric Handel. Ballad opera transformed European stage song, merging high- with low-style airs, marketing native English singers, and promoting a ‘natural’ vocal production. It was arguably the earliest prototype of our modern popular music theatre industry. The unprecedented success of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728) precipitated a wave of rival productions, and ballad operas quickly became a staple London stage entertainment.
Eighteenth-century ballad operas were stage productions that combined a comic or sentimental play with musical numbers re-using ‘common Tunes’ familiar to middle class audiences. Although ballad opera advertisements often touted a work’s ‘old Ballad Tunes’, most of the music was more contemporary, rather than traditional. Ballad operas jumbled together tunes from high- and low-style sources, drawing heavily on other theatre music, Italian operas, country dances, and popular song collections.

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