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Italian Opera and the Domestic in Georgian Britain

Italian Opera and the Domestic in Georgian Britain
Italian Opera and the Domestic in Georgian Britain
This thesis examines the domestic consumption of Italian opera in Georgian Britain. It focuses on the years c.1780-1837, when the success of Italian opera at the King’s Theatre in London corresponded with the explosion of the printing market, meaning opera enthusiasts could develop operatic collections to enjoy from their own homes. Much scholarly attention has been paid to Italian operatic culture in professional British spheres, including focuses on its spectators and the controversies surrounding British engagement with Italian culture at a time of significant national development. But we know little about how these consumers engaged with Italian opera in the domestic sphere. This thesis asks: how was Italian opera travelling into the home during this period, who was consuming it there, and how was it being consumed? These questions are considered alongside modern scholarly theories of cultural transfer, asking what the domestic consumption of Italian opera in Britain can tell us about the about the circulation of European culture c.1800.
Three surviving domestic music collections serve as principal case studies, including: aspects of the Montagu Music Collection belonging to the 3rd generation of the aristocratic Buccleuch dynasty; the music books to Elizabeth Egerton, née Sykes (1777-1853), held today at Tatton Park in Cheshire; and the collection belonging to Sir Thomas Gladstone, 2nd Baronet (1804-1889). These collections, along with broader familial archival materials, are used to examine the different ways in which people engaged with Italian operatic culture in the home, as collectors, patrons, spectators, and amateur performers. Annotations found in the principal collections are placed alongside pedagogical literature of the era to understand how domestic performers were engaging with the Italian language and the Italian style of singing. Finally, comparisons are drawn between these case studies to examine how engagement with Italian opera differed within the upper-class social sphere, in relation to notions of elite, gendered, and national identities.
This study forms part of a growing scholarly interest in historic domestic music-making, and advocates for the consideration of Italian opera as a domestic as well as a public genre within this field. By considering domestic music collections alongside their owners’ broader engagement with Italian culture, we can see how consumption of the genre in private influenced interaction with the genre in pubic, and vice versa. Moreover, we can see how the domestic sphere played an important role in the circulation of Italian culture in Britain c.1800, and how the domestic consumption of Italian opera contributed to broader British perceptions of ‘Italy’.
University of Southampton
Fabian, Catherine, Ann
955f9334-4a50-43c0-84e3-77a2aee11673
Fabian, Catherine, Ann
955f9334-4a50-43c0-84e3-77a2aee11673
Brooks, Laura
4b254837-1e36-4869-9695-17000b6c5ff9
Izzo, Francesco
8d27b5eb-b239-4606-b86f-b6de2fcd8cdc

Fabian, Catherine, Ann (2022) Italian Opera and the Domestic in Georgian Britain. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 282pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis examines the domestic consumption of Italian opera in Georgian Britain. It focuses on the years c.1780-1837, when the success of Italian opera at the King’s Theatre in London corresponded with the explosion of the printing market, meaning opera enthusiasts could develop operatic collections to enjoy from their own homes. Much scholarly attention has been paid to Italian operatic culture in professional British spheres, including focuses on its spectators and the controversies surrounding British engagement with Italian culture at a time of significant national development. But we know little about how these consumers engaged with Italian opera in the domestic sphere. This thesis asks: how was Italian opera travelling into the home during this period, who was consuming it there, and how was it being consumed? These questions are considered alongside modern scholarly theories of cultural transfer, asking what the domestic consumption of Italian opera in Britain can tell us about the about the circulation of European culture c.1800.
Three surviving domestic music collections serve as principal case studies, including: aspects of the Montagu Music Collection belonging to the 3rd generation of the aristocratic Buccleuch dynasty; the music books to Elizabeth Egerton, née Sykes (1777-1853), held today at Tatton Park in Cheshire; and the collection belonging to Sir Thomas Gladstone, 2nd Baronet (1804-1889). These collections, along with broader familial archival materials, are used to examine the different ways in which people engaged with Italian operatic culture in the home, as collectors, patrons, spectators, and amateur performers. Annotations found in the principal collections are placed alongside pedagogical literature of the era to understand how domestic performers were engaging with the Italian language and the Italian style of singing. Finally, comparisons are drawn between these case studies to examine how engagement with Italian opera differed within the upper-class social sphere, in relation to notions of elite, gendered, and national identities.
This study forms part of a growing scholarly interest in historic domestic music-making, and advocates for the consideration of Italian opera as a domestic as well as a public genre within this field. By considering domestic music collections alongside their owners’ broader engagement with Italian culture, we can see how consumption of the genre in private influenced interaction with the genre in pubic, and vice versa. Moreover, we can see how the domestic sphere played an important role in the circulation of Italian culture in Britain c.1800, and how the domestic consumption of Italian opera contributed to broader British perceptions of ‘Italy’.

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Submitted date: March 2021
Published date: 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 454688
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/454688
PURE UUID: 82c2c4ed-456b-4c2c-be29-7f55767e0f07

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Date deposited: 21 Feb 2022 17:35
Last modified: 02 Mar 2022 17:30

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Contributors

Thesis advisor: Laura Brooks
Thesis advisor: Francesco Izzo

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