By Ruth Smith
During this wide-ranging and tough e-book, Ruth Smith exhibits that the phrases of Handel's oratorios replicate the occasions and ideas in their time and feature a ways better which means than has hitherto been discovered. She sheds new gentle at the oratorio librettists and explores literature, tune, aesthetics, politics and faith to bare Handel's texts as conduits for eighteenth-century notion and sensibility. This e-book enriches our knowing of Handel, his occasions, and the relationships among song and its highbrow contexts.
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Additional resources for Handel's Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought
59 In 1732 Handel's theatre company, assembled to perform Italian opera, starred Italian singers (for musical and box-office reasons),60 and for some of his audience at least, this reduced the viability of works in English; the pamphleteer already quoted was quick to complain of Handel's first performances of Esther that 'Senesino and Bertolli made rare work with the English Tongue you would have sworn it had been Welch; I would have wish'd it Italian, that they might have sung with more ease to themselves, since, but for the Name of English, it might as well have been Hebrew''.
But a series of five letters about Belshazzar to Jennens (who is also the librettist whose correspondence survives) illuminates the process so tellingly that it is worth quoting in full once more. Handel writes: Now should I be extreamly glad to receive the first Act, or what is ready, of the new Oratorio with which you intend to favour me, that I might employ all my attention and time, in order to answer in some measure the great obligation I lay under. This new favour will greatly increase my Obligations ...
PART I English origins of English oratorio To judge rightly of an author, we must transport ourselves to his time, and examine what were the wants of his contemporaries, and what were his means of supplying them. Samuel Johnson, 'Life of Dryden', Lives of the English Poets (1779-81) CHAPTER I Artistic norms When the English public was introduced to Esther in 1732 it also encountered the designation oratorio for the first time. The advertisements for both the 'pirated' York Buildings version and Handel's own performances referred to the work as such.
Handel's Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought by Ruth Smith