One is earthy and comical--an 18th century musical tale of thieves, tramps and trollops. The other is the most beloved holiday concert piece in the world. They are, in fact, about as far apart as two works can be. And yet, without the earthy antics and anthems of The Beggar's Opera, Handel's Messiah might never have been.
Today, when we think of Handel's great vocal works, it’s the oratorios--in particular, Messiah--that spring to mind. But for much of his career, he was known for his operas. And, although he was born in Germany, and spent most of his adult life in England, those operas were in Italian.
And thereby hangs a tale--and the surprising story behind this hour's music.