DFG-Projekt: The Business of Singing in England 1660–1760
Between c. 1660 and c. 1760 musical and cultural life in England developed at a quick pace, with London becoming a main European centre for music in the eighteenth century. During this period various musical genres developed such as church anthems, semi-opera, music in plays, masques, English opera, Italian opera, ballad opera, pantomime, English oratorios and odes, many of which fall into the area of theatre music. Singers played a vital role in the performance of these genres and were required to adapt their skills to keep up with the changes – English actors often had to learn to sing; Italian singers were imported to perform Italian opera, bringing new musical styles with them; and church singers became involved with the performance of English oratorio and moral odes. Using selected examples of both well and lesser-known singers, the project explores the business of singing in England from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until the period shortly after the death of George II in 1760 when the new gallant style began to take hold in England. Specific areas being considered as part of the project include: the career paths of singers; the management of singers; the role of singers in the compositional process; the differences and similarities between Italian and English singers; the development of singing style and its cultural, social and musical implications; the rise of ‘star’ culture; national and international cultural flows; and issues of sex and gender associated with the careers of singers. The results of the project will be published as a monograph in 2015–16.