opera ‘Berenice’ was first performed at Covent Garden Theatre in London on 18th
Set in Egypt in 81 BC, it was based on a
fanciful libretto written in 1709 by Antonio Salvi, and traces the life of
Cleopatra (Berenice III of Egypt and daughter of Ptolemy IX, the main character
in another Handel opera, ‘Tolomeo’).
It was not a
success (it lasted a mere three performances) and was not performed again in
Handel’s lifetime, although following a revival in historically informed
musical performance since the 1960s, it has gained renewed interest and
The original score is restrained - written for strings, oboes, and basso
continuo, with its most popular excerpts coming from the 'Aria' in Act 2 and this
There have been a number of different brass band arrangements made of the music
over the years; notably by George Hawkins, a highly skilled band trainer who
led Harton Colliery Band to the British Open title in 1919.
appears to be a spirited arrangement by someone (the identity is not revealed) from
Tredegar Band from around 1935 (the incomplete set is stuck to old commercial
packaging card), as there are a number of small, melodic and compositional errors
that had to be rectified before it could be recorded by the current band under
MD, Ian Porthouse.
The piece was certainly played by Tredegar Band many times - with one performance
(although misspelled as ‘Beronice’) taking place in a Bedwellty Park Bandstand concert
programme in the town on 1st June, 1947, conducted by Cornelius
was sandwiched between a selection from ‘Pirates of Penzance’ by Arthur
Sullivan and ‘Sweethearts of Yesterday’ by the popular band leader Henry Hall.