The Politics of Opera in Handel's Britain

The Politics of Opera in Handel's Britain

By: Thomas McGeary (author)Hardback

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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.

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About 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.


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.

Product Details

  • publication date: 25/04/2013
  • ISBN13: 9781107009882
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 422
  • ID: 9781107009882
  • weight: 870
  • ISBN10: 110700988X

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