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Home » Books » Music » Genres & Styles » Opera

The Politics of Opera in Handel's Britain

By Thomas McGeary

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Format: Paperback, 422 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 November 2017
The Politics of Opera in Handel's Britain examines the involvement of Italian opera in British partisan politics in the first half of the eighteenth century, which saw Sir Robert Walpole's rise to power and George Frideric Handel's greatest period of opera production. McGeary argues that the conventional way of applying Italian opera to contemporary political events and persons by means of allegory and allusion in individual operas is mistaken; nor did partisan politics intrude into the management of the Royal Academy of Music and the Opera of the Nobility. This book shows instead how Senesino, Faustina, Cuzzoni and events at the Haymarket Theatre were used in political allegories in satirical essays directed against the Walpole ministry. Since most operas were based on ancient historical events, the librettos - like traditional histories - could be sources of examples of vice, virtue, and political precepts and wisdom that could be applied to contemporary politics.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. Opera and political allegory: when is it an allegory? When is it political?; 3. Politics in the Royal Academy of Music; 4. The opera house, allegory, and the political opposition; 5. Handel's Second Academy; 6. Rival opera companies and Farinelli at the Court of Madrid; 7. Politics, theatre, and opera in the 1730s; 8. The opera stage as political history; Epilogue; Appendices: 1. Directors of the Royal Academy of Music; 2. Operas of the Royal Academy of Music; 3. Directors of the Opera of the Nobility; 4. Operas of the Opera of the Nobility; 5. Hanoverian celebratory pieces.

About the Author

Thomas McGeary has written extensively about the reception of Italian opera in eighteenth-century Britain and his editions and translations of Arnold Schoenberg and Harry Partch received ASCAP-Deems Taylor awards. His research has been supported by fellowships from institutions including the Newberry Library/British Academy, the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art and the American Handel Society, and his articles on art, music and literature in eighteenth-century Britain have appeared in, among others, Music and Letters, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, the Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies, Early Music, Burlington Magazine and Philological Quarterly.


'McGeary's argument is convincing throughout not only because he argues his points with great consistency, but because he documents them meticulously with evidence from an unusually large number of both primary and secondary sources.' The Newsletter of the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music '... [a] detailed and well-referenced study ... it is certain to become essential reading not only for those interested in new directions for Handel scholarship but also for anyone with an interest in better understanding the impact of the turbulent political times on the cultural life of early eighteenth-century London.' Andrew Pink, Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre Research

EAN: 9781316620229
ISBN: 1316620220
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Dimensions: 24.41 x 16.99 x 2.18 centimetres (0.07 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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