Professor Michael Burden

Michael Burden is Fellow in Music at New College, and Professor in Opera Studies in the University. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, and his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. He has served on the Council of the Royal Musical Association, is a patron member of the American Society for Eighteenth-century Studies,  and is currently active as the immediate Past President of the British Society for 18th-century Studies. He is also on the steering committee of the Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment, a member of the Project Team for Ballad Operas Online, a Trustee of Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), United Kingdom; and on the Advisory Panel of The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing.

From 2003 to 2008, he served as a judge on the Duff Cooper Literary Prize for history, biography, politics or poetry.

He is Dean of New College, and also holds the offices of Chattels Fellow and Portraits Fellow. He served for some years on the University of Oxford Committee for the Museums and Scientific Collections, and is currently a Visitor of the Ashmolean Museum. Outside music, his interests are in art, architecture, and detective fiction.

‘The 18th-century English novel as opera: Sentimentality, Pamela and The Maid of the Mill’, Revue LISA/LISA e-journal Vol. IX, n° 2, 2011 (

‘Images of Dancers on the London Stage, 1699–1800’, Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography, 36/1-2 (2011), 53-91. (with Olive Baldwin, and  Thelma Wilson).

‘Visions of dance at the King’s Theatre: reconsidering London’s “opera house”’, Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography, 36/1-2 (2011), 92-116.

‘Stage and Costume Designers Working at the Italian Opera In London: the Evidence of the Librettos 1710-1801’, Theatre Notebook, 65/3 (2011), 126-151.

‘Music: And so to the Movies’, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies: Special Issue: The State of the Discipline, 43/4 (2011), 453-460.

‘Pots, privies, and WCs; crapping at the opera in London before 1830’, Cambridge Opera Journal, 23/2 (2011), 27-50.

‘Shakespeare and Opera’, in Fiona Ritchie and Peter Sabor, eds, Eighteenth Century Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 204-224.

London Opera Observed 1711-1844, 5 vols (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2013).

‘Printed interventions in eighteenth-century librettos for the performance of Italian opera in London: the roles of commas, inserts, and pasteovers’, Script and print, 37/3 (2013), 133-58.

‘When Giulio Cesare was not Handel’s Giulio Cesare; the opera on the London stage in 1787’, Musicorum 14 (2013), 109-122.

Impresario and Diva: Regina Mingotti’s years at London’s King’s Theatre, Royal Musical Association Monograph 22, (2013).

Essays on aspects of the London theatre in The Cambridge Companion to the Theatre (Cambridge, 2007), The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-century Opera (Cambridge, 2009), Pietro Alessanro Guglielmi (1728-1804) Musicista italiano nel Settecento europeo, Musica Tuscana XV (2009), The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Music (Cambridge, 2009), and Ancient drama in music for the modern stage (Oxford, 2010).

Click here for full list of publications: M. Burden’s Publications
Click here for current research projects: M. Burden’s Research Projects
Click here for full list of opera productions: M. Burden’s Opera Productions

His research interests are centered on the history of the London stage 1660 to 1860, and beyond, with an emphasis on staging techniques and processes in opera, and on the performance of dance. Much of his published research is on the music of Henry Purcell. Some of his research has resulted in stagings of newly recovered works, most recently of Francesco Cavalli’s Erismena, for which he produced a new edition of the score and directed the performances. He is a member of both the Scientific and Editorial Committees for the new complete Stradella edition, ETS Pisa, and of the Scientific Committee of the complete John Eccles edition, A-R Editions, Wisconsin. With Jennifer Thorp, he organises the annual Oxford Dance Symposium, now over a decade old.

His ongoing research projects include the career of the London soprano Louisa Pyne (who in 1856 took her opera company down the Mississippi to New Orleans and back on a paddlewheeler), the use and re-use of Italian arias at the King’s Theatre (a print and database project, The Italian Opera Aria on the London Stage 1705-1801, with Christopher Chowrimootoo) and the adaptation of Metastasio for the London stage. He is currently heading The London Stage Project 1800-1900, which has been underway since October 2007, and which will provide a calendar of stage performances (of operas, ballad operas, pantomimes, plays, and so on) in the London theatre.

He teaches music history across the course from Medieval to 21st century. His special subjects include most opera topics, music historiography, and music analysis. He is also director of New Chamber Opera, which during the term stages performances involving undergraduates.

With Wendy Heller in the Music Department at Princeton University, he holds on of the Oxford-Princeton Collaborative Research Grants.  Running from 2011-12 to 2013-14, the subject is Staging History: performing the past in the theatres of London and New York, 1770-1870, and those involved are Victoria Ascheim, Micaela Baranello, Jonathan Hicks, David Kennerley, Ellen Lockhart, James Steichen, and David Stuart.