London Early Opera

London Early Opera is at the forefront of baroque research and performance practice working with leading historians, scholars and editors performing unique newly discovered programmes and making new editions of music specialising in the music of George Frideric Handel and his contemporaries.

LEO has established itself around the world for these imaginative programmes, award winning research, outstanding performances and for nurturing international singers in the baroque style. The Artistic Director, Bridget Cunningham coaches and directs from the harpsichord and their new scheme and chamber ensemble The Handelians focuses on the development and education of exceptional singers and musicians inspiring the future generations – one of Handel’s passions.

LEO is expanding its recording series with Signum Classics exploring Handel’s colourful life, influences and experiences which inspired his magnificent musical legacy. Their albums Handel in Italy Volumes 1 & 2, Handel in Ireland, Handel at Vauxhall Volumes 1 & 2 and Handel’s Queens have been reviewed with international acclaim;

“Handel has never sounded better” 2019 BBC Music Magazine 5 Stars *****

The playing is so beautifully focused….. Splendid in every respect.” BBC Radio 3 CD Review, October 2016 and Gramophone Magazine Editors Pick.

Deliciously played and springily accompanied by London Early Opera’s fine band, under the expert baton of Bridget Cunningham” Early Music Review, 2016.

Since 2008 their performances range from Handel’s Semele, Acis and Galatea, Bach’s Easter Oratorio, a 400th Anniversary concert of Monteverdi‘s 1610 Vespers at Southwark Cathedral, recordings of George Butterworth, several international tours and performances at the London Handel Festival, Handel Hendrix House and the Foundling Museum and a live broadcast for BBC Radio 4 on the River Thames celebrating the 300th anniversary of Handel’s Water Music with a world premiere BBC commission.

London Early Opera was established in 2008 and is a UK Registered Charity No. 1143989 partnered with the French Association CreAquitaine.

  • London Early Opera follow up their debut release with a treasure trove of music by George Frideric Handel, as well as his contemporaries Thomas Arne and John Hebden, centered on the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens – a carnival of music and entertainments that entertained visitors for nearly 200 years. The booklet notes features images and expert commentaries of the Vauxhall Gardens by author David E. Coke and conductor and musicologist Bridget Cunningham. ★★★★★ Revelatory - a superbly performed, thoroughly enjoyable disc - Choir & Organ A treasure trove... highly recommended - The Northern Echo Bridget Cunningham's re-imagining of the first part of a typical evening's entertainment puts George Frideric centrestage, and sets the scene delectably with the flirtatious bustle of the Sinfonia to Acis and Galatea - BBC Music Magazine An attractive potpourri... bright, lively sound - The Observer A perfectly sensible and enjoyable approach to imagining what a typical night at Vauxhall might have sounded like. There is a charming ebba and flow to this hypothetical entertainment - Gramophone Most decorously sung and played by London Early Opera, conducted by Bridget Cunningham - Financial Times
  • London Early Opera continue their programme themed around a typical evening’s entertainment at the 17th & 18th century Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, with a second collection of works by George Frideric Handel and contemporary composers of the day (John Stanley, Thomas Gladwin, John Lampe and Johann Adolph Hasse). Featuring performances by soloists Claire Bessent, Mary Bevan, Benjamin Bevan, Eleanor Dennis, Charles MacDougale, Nicky Spence and Greg Tassell, the programme evokes the carnival of music and entertainments that amused visitors in these London gardens for nearly 200 years. The booklet notes feature images and expert commentaries on the Vauxhall Gardens by author David E. Coke and as well as conductor and musicologist Bridget Cunningham. Claire Bessent’s lovely ‘There sweetest flowers of mingled hue’ is amply worth the price of admissionGramophone A must for early music devotees - Northern Echo  
  • London Early Opera continue their new series of Handel’s works with the second volume of pieces composed in Italy. Both volumes of Handel in Italy explore the young composer’s Italian years through his cantatas, sacred pieces, operatic works and instrumental compositions. Handel wrote prolifically during his stay in Italy, his output includes oratorios, operas, sonatas, instrumental works and sacred vocal masterpieces including over 100 cantatas. Featuring performances from internationally acclaimed soloists, the sopranos Sophie Bevan and Mary Bevan with their uncle, baritone Benjamin Bevan conducted and conceived by Bridget Cunningham.
  • London Early Opera perform a unique programme of Handel’s Italian-inspired works, devised by conductor Bridget Cunningham and featuring a unique family collaboration from from world-renowned soprano sisters Sophie Bevan and Mary Bevan alongside their uncle, bass Benjamin Bevan. Editor's Pick: This is as polished an account as any on account of Sophie Bevan's unerring sense of decorum for what each movement requires Gramophone The quality of the musicianship is highBBC Music Magazine A dazzling disc from the Bevan siblingsThe Observer An enjoyable showcase for Mary, Sophie and Benjamin Bevan - The Sunday Times A pleasant compilation, showcasing the considerable vocal talents of three of the Bevan familyEarly Music Review
  • Handel’s Queens features some of the most exquisite pieces of music written by G.F. Handel and his contemporaries for the two finest singers of the eighteenth century, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni. Often wrongfully framed as rivals, these dazzling new recordings with Mary Bevan and Lucy Crowe reveal the distinctive yet versatile talent of the Italian vocalists.  Conductor Bridget Cunningham continues her research and created Handel’s Queens and directs London Early Opera from the harpsichord. Handel’s Queens - as part of this important series serves as a further example of Cunningham’s dedication to imaginative programming and outstanding period performance on this double CD placing her at the forefront of baroque research and recording.
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