After the burning of the Haymarket theater in 1789, the Italian opera in London was in chaos. Yet several critics called this a golden age for opera seria, and London continued to attract the greatest singers and dancers. A recently discovered archive-which includes the complete financial and managerial records of two London opera houses-adds considerably to our understanding of this period and provides new information about Haydn, Burney, Sheridan, Turner, the Storaces, and Mozart. The documents also show that the Prince of Wales, the Marquis of Salisbury, and the Duke of Bedford patronized and secretly financed a court opera house at the Pantheon during 1790-92, with Paisiello as house composer in absentia. But faced with crushing competition from Haydn at the new Haymarket theater, Bedford and Salisbury conspired to have the Pantheon burned down, an act which affected the management of Italian opera in London for decades to come.
- Copyright 1989 The American Musicological Society, Inc.