• HarpsichordConcerto

    by Published on February 7th, 2012 01:59 PM     Number of Views: 11475 
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    Historical Background

    For the five winter season between December 1729 and June 1734 Handel, assisted by the impresario J. J. Heidegger, was effectively in sole charge of Italian opera at the King’s Theatre in London’s Haymarket. In the previous decade opera had been produced by the Royal Academy of Music, a group of noblemen and landed gentry who financed the operation in company with other subscribers; but after the collapse of the Academy in 1728 the directors ceded their managerial rights to Handel and Heidegger for five years. The new arrangement allowed the privilege – rare for a composer at this time – of producing operas to some extent according to his own taste. Thus the series of serious, heroic operas favoured by the Academy was soon broadened by the production in February 1730 of Partenope, a setting of a highly amusing libretto by Stampiglia which had been considered by the Academy in 1726, but rejected apparently on grounds of its “depravity”. Pasticcios and adaptations of operas by leading Italian composers also appeared, and in the spring of 1732 came the major innovation of English oratorio in the shape of a revised version of Esther, shortly followed by a new version of Acis and Galatea as a serenata, mixing music from Handel’s earlier Italian and English settings of the story. Handel had good cast casts for these productions, led from the autumn of 1730 by the great and popular castrato Senesino (Francesco Bernadi), who had also played the major roles in the earlier Academy operas.
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