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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Composers Datebook for January 10, 2012





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Tuesday, January 10

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Handel in London

Today, we note two anniversaries concerning Handel and his music in London.

On today's date in 1710, the German-born composer's music was performed in London for the first time, when excerpts from his opera "Rodrigo" were performed as incidental music during a revival of Ben Jonson's play, "The Alchymist."

It's a nice historical touch that the great 18th century composer's music should be used to grace a play by the great 17th playwright who was a friend and colleague of Shakespeare. In addition to his famous satirical comedies like "The Alchymist" and "Volpone," Ben Jonson had supplied the poetic texts for elaborate masques staged at the court of King James the First. These were a kind of precursor of the lavish Baroque operas that would become so popular in Italy. Handel's opera, "Rodrigo" had, in fact, debuted in Italy in 1707, just three years before its tunes were recycled for use on the British stage.

By 1713, the vogue for Italian operas had reached London, and Handel himself was on hand to write and stage them. On today's date in 1713, Handel's opera, "Teseo," had its premiere at the Queen's Theater in London. And, just to show that off-stage events could prove every bit as dramatic as those on-stage, the theater manager, a certain Owen Swiney, ran off to Italy with the box office receipts after the second night's performance!

Music Played on Today's Program:

George Frederic Handel
(1685 - 1757):
Bourrée, from Rodrigo
Hallé Orchestra;
Sir John Barbirolli, cond.
EMI 63956
&
Overture to Teseo
The English Concert;
Trevor Pinnock, cond.
Archiv 419 219

Additional Information:

On Handel and his music

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Composers Datebook is a daily program about composers of the past and present, hosted by John Zech.

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