Italian Opera Aria on the London Stage 1705-1801

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About the project

This is the digital edition of the Italian Opera Aria on the London Stage 1705-1801. The project is based on the surviving libretti, both printed and manuscript, for operas in Italian performed in London. It provides a mechanism by which aria texts can be traced through different libretti as they were moved from one opera to another by impresarios, conductors, and singers. The hard copy version of the project is currently planned to appear in three volumes:

  • ▪ Volume I: The catalogue of libretti
  • ▪ Volume II: The list of arias
  • ▪ Volume III: Supplementary tables – Opera criticism – Bibliography – Indices.

This is a project about the libretti, not about what arias texts – or which settings of those texts – may have been used in performance.

The project is headed by Michael Burden as the principal investigator, and Christopher Chowrimootoo as Co-researcher. It began in 2007.

Phase 1

Phase 1 of the database, now completed and released, is to make available the aria incipits of those text in the libretti, so that the movement of the aria texts can be traced from libretto to libretto.

Phase 1 of the project has been the recipient of funding from the John Fell Fund, and from Eugene Ludwig through the Ludwig Family Charitable Trust. Michael Burden received the Collins Research Fellowship to the Huntington Library, which enabled work to be undertaken on the libretti in the Larpent Collection of Plays.

Current phase: Phase 2

Phase 2 of the project will develop a comprehensive complimentary database in two parts. Part I will include a searchable listing of the Favourite Songs series of collections, which contain published arias from the operas performed in London. Part II will include all the arias published individually which can be connected to the operas as staged.

Phase 2 of the project has so far been supported through the award to Michael Burden of the Katharine F. Pantzer Jr. Fellowship in Descriptive Bibliography to the Harvard Theatre Collection, to examine copies of the Favourite Songs series in the Houghton Library’s holdings.