This book is concerned with a hundred years of musical drama in England. It charts the development of the genre from the theatre works of Henry Purcell (and his contemporaries) to the dramatic oratorios of George Frideric Handel (and his). En route it investigates the objections to all-sung drama in English that were articulated in the decades around 1700, various proposed solutions, the importation of Italian opera, and the creation of the dramatic oratorio - English drama, all-sung but not staged. Most of the constituent essays take an in-depth look at a particular aspect of the process, while others draw attention to dramatic qualities in non-dramatic works that also were performed in the theatre. The journey from Purcell to Handel illustrates the vigour and vitality of English theatrical and musical traditions, and Handel's dramatic oratorios and other settings of English words answer questions posed before he was born.
Colin Timms is Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham, where he held the Peyton and Barber chair from 1992 to 2012. He is also a trustee of the Gerald Coke Handel Foundation and of the Handel Institute, whose Newsletter he edits, and honorary president of the Forum Agostino Steffani. He has published extensively on Steffani, and his book Polymath of the Baroque: Agostino Steffani and his Music (2013) won a British Academy prize. In addition to works by Steffani and Stradella, he has edited Theodora for the Hallische Handel-Ausgabe and Handel's Comus for Novello. Bruce Wood is Emeritus Professor of Music at Bangor University, and Chairman of the Purcell Society. He is the author of the most recent biography of Purcell (Purcell: An Extraordinary Life, 2009) and editor or co-editor of more than a dozen volumes of music by Purcell and Blow in the Purcell Society Edition and in Musica Britannica.
List of figures; Music examples; Authors and editors; Introduction; Part I. From Purcell to Handel: 1. Purcell's 'scurvy' poets Roger Savage; 2. Opera as literature and the triumph of music Martin Adams; 3. The British Enchanters and George Granville's theory of opera Wolfgang Hirschmann; 4. Lost chances: obstacles to English opera for Purcell and Handel Jeffrey Barnouw; 5. Alexander's Feast, or The Power of Perseverance: Dryden's plan for English opera and its near-fulfilment in a Handel ode Andrew Pinnock and Bruce Wood; Part II. Handel and Italian Opera: 6. Ombra mai fu: shades of Greece and Rome in the librettos for Handel's London operas Peter Brown; 7. Handel and the uses of antiquity Reinhard Strohm; 8. From Metastasio's Alessandro to Handel's Poro: a change of dramatic emphasis Graham Cummings; 9. Deidamia as an 'heroi-comi-pastoral' opera Sarah McCleave; Part III. Handel and English Works in the Theatre: 10. Seventeenth-century literary classics as eighteenth-century libretto sources: Congreve, Dryden and Milton in the 1730s and '40s Matthew Gardner; 11. 'In this ballance seek a character': the role of 'Il Moderato' in L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato Ruth Smith; 12. 'Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures': glancing and gazing spectatorship in Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato Matthew Badham; 13. Accompanied recitative and characterisation in Handel's oratorios Liam Gorry; 14. Handel, Charles Jennens and the advent of scriptural oratorio John H. Roberts; Bibliography; Index.