This class will examine the rich musical history of the performing arts and theatre in eighteenth-century England. This was a period when theatre and opera worlds mixed, and fair-booth burlesque and musical theatre—the ancestors of English music hall and vaudeville —flourished at the expense of “legitimate” English drama. In this course we will study the various genres of eighteenth-century English musical and theatrical forms, including ballets (both French and English), pantomimes, afterpieces, burlesques, ballad operas, pastiches, and mid-century attempts at a native “serious” opera. Through primary source materials, we will explore the eighteenth-century Shakespeare revival, the hegemony of Italian opera in London, the emerging idea of the “star” performer, music in the London pleasure gardens, the fad for Handelian oratorios, Mozart and Haydn in London, illegitimate theatre, life in touring theatrical companies, and the rise of popular music culture and marketing.
MUSC 230 Music and Drama of Eighteenth Century England