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The Brief Good Lifetime of the Pantheon Opera Home – Lyric Say

Opera in London within the 1790s was a cut-throat competitors. Handel had deserted Italian opera in 1741, and the standard started to fall. The excessive charges that singers such because the castrati Senesino and Farinelli and the soprano Cuzzoni commanded weren’t matched by revenue from the seats, which remained at half a guinea. Operas on the King’s Theatre within the Haymarket got on Tuesdays and Saturdays, December to June, and comedian opera and ballet gained significance. Administration firms got here and went (like the cash).

The opposite principal homes, Covent Backyard and Drury Lane, placed on musical leisure in English and made cash. Lighter works equivalent to Arne’s Artaserse and his pastiche Love in Village had been widespread, as was Linley’s The Duenna, setting the play by Sheridan. Italian operas got in English, and the performing schedule was six days every week, and the value was half guinea.

R. B. Sheridan and Thomas Harris purchased the King’s Theatre in 1778 for £22,000 (over half of which was a mortgage). Sheridan and Harris had been the principal owner-managers of Covent Backyard and Drury Lane and hoped to revive the 1662 theatre patent to run their third theatre. Galliani purchased the mortgage, Sheridan purchased out Harris, offered his shares to William Taylor, after which Taylor and Galliani started to battle for management of the theatre.

In 1782, Taylor had the King’s Theatre gutted and rebuilt with an instantaneous final result of chapter. Galliani took over administration from 1785 to 1789. The theatre burned down in June 1789. Rebuilt, it opened in February 1791, however the Lord Chancellor refused to grant it permission to run.

In the meantime, one other theatre was coming into play: The Pantheon. Positioned on Oxford Road, it had been in-built 1772 as an exhibition area and was altered in 1790 to be an opera home. Now London had two opera homes, and just one had a license for performances.

One ballet that was given its premiere on the Pantheon in 1791 was Hérold’s La fille mal gardée.

Ferdinand Hérold: La fille mal gardée (arr. J. Lanchbery) – Act I: Introduction (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Barry Wordsworth, cond.)

The King’s Theatre employed dancers and Haydn. The Pantheon employed a robust firm that included Mara and Pacchiarotti and tried to rent Mozart however wasn’t profitable in that. The Pantheon was dedicated to opera seria however would additionally do opera buffa of their second firm. The Pantheon gave 55 performances within the 1790—91 season, and the 4 performances into the following season mysteriously burned down. It didn’t survive however its demise solved the two-opera-house downside for London.

On the top of the competitors, two prints got here out in London from the hand of caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson. Each are dated 13 January 1791 and have the identical title: The Prospect Earlier than Us.

Thomas Rowlandson: The Prospect Before Us, 13 January 1791 (British Museum)

Thomas Rowlandson: The Prospect Earlier than Us, 13 January 1791 (British Museum) – Opera Home within the Haymarket

Set within the newly completed Pantheon, M. Didelot and Mme. Theodore dance within the ballet of Amphion and Thalia. Round them, all is happiness and light-weight. The home is crowded, and there are three tiers of on-stage bins crammed with followers. The six tiers of the home proven right here had been really 4 tiers. On the centre is the royal field, through which the King (wanting via his opera glass) and the Queen may be seen. The caption on the backside learn: ‘Respectfully dedicated to those Singers, Dancers, & Musical Professors, who are fortunately engaged with the Proprietor of the King’s Theatre, on the Pantheon.’

The Royal Patronage for the Pantheon and its success is skilfully despatched up by Rowlandson in his depiction of what was taking place down the Haymarket. This scene is ready out in entrance. The constructing entrance has a banner, ‘Pray Remember the Poor Dancers’ (within the type of begging sailors who carried a ship), and the entrance line is of ragged and begging performers. From the left, a cellist and a timpanist play whereas a violinist is clad solely in a tattered shirt. The hornist lacks trousers. The dancer, most likely Mlle Hillisburgh, is clad in finery above and rags under. The subsequent dancer, in a wig and rags, holds out his cap for a coin from a chimney sweep. A feminine singer additionally in rags emotes dramatically – this can be the Italian singer Giovanna Sestini. The final beggar, an aged man, receives a liver and lights from a passing butcher. The caption, a bit extra vindictively reads: ‘Humanely inscrib’d to all these Professors of Music, and Dancing, whom the cap could match.’

Thomas Rowlandson: The Prospect Before Us, 13 January 1791 (British Museum)

Thomas Rowlandson: The Prospect Earlier than Us, 13 January 1791 (British Museum) – Pantheon, London

The 2 drawings had been created as a pair and provides us a startling insider’s view of the prosperity and poverty of the performing lifetime of 1790s London.

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