Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Donald Burrows (The Open University, UK)

Venues, patronage and performers: Handel and the London opera companies in the 1730s

The history of Italian opera in London during the 1730s is usually described in terms of the rivalry between Handel’s productions and those of the Opera of the Nobility.  However, the situation changed in various ways from season to season, and a more refined description needs to take into account a succession of different circumstances and pressures, relating to the performers, the managements, the programmes , and the venues.  Some evidence leads to new questions about the perceived legitimacy of opera performances in venues other than the King’s Theatre, and about the pattern of Royal patronage, particularly as it affected the Prince of Wales and the royal Princesses.  Recent evidence from the papers of James Harris also calls into question the nature of Handel’s participation in the 1737–8 season at the King’s Theatre, in which three of his operas were produced and he received a benefit night.  The paper will review the various issues relating to the successive opera seasons.

Last updated on 10 May 2004