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Title: A star is born : Kitty Clive and female representation in eighteenth-century English musical theatre
Author: Joncus, Berta
ISNI:       0000 0001 1452 4647
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2004
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Catherine ('Kitty') Clive (1711-1785) was the most famous singer-actress of mideighteenth century London, and one of the first women whom Drury Lane managers sought to popularize specifically as a singer. Drawing on theories of star construction in cinema, this thesis explores how the public persona of Mrs Clive 'composed' the music she sang. A key ingredient in star production is the wide-ranging dissemination of the star's image. The first chapter explains how the mid-eighteenth star was produced, outlining the period equivalents to what film scholars consider the sources of modern stardom: promotion, publicity, criticism and the work. This last means of star production is considered according to period traditions of comic writing, acting and spectatorship. These activities were part of the practice, begun in the Restoration, of creating a 'line' or metacharacter to fit the skills, reputation and unique acting mannerisms of principal players. The second chapter examines the vehicle of Mrs Clive's initial success, ballad opera. Ballad opera brought to the London stage the musical and discursive traditions of the street ballad singer, who typically communicated with audiences directly through indigenous, popular tunes. Direct address and native pedigree were to remain key elements in Mrs Clive's music, regardless of the genre she was singing. Chapters 3 to 5 trace three distinct phases in Mrs Clive's star production. Chapter 3 studies her promotion by Henry Carey, who taught her distinctive vocal techniques ('natural' singing; mimicry of opera singers) and supplied a sophisticated ballad-style repertory of which she was the chief exponent, 1728-32. Through Mrs Clive, Carey promoted his music and convictions - song in 'sublimated ballad style', the attractiveness of native traditions, female rights - and these became hallmarks of the Clive persona. Chapter 4 considers Henry Fielding's Clive publicity in his musical comedies and writings for her, 1732-6. Initially, he vivified the impudent nymph of her first 1729 mezzotint through stage characters, songs and epilogues. The criticism she drew for her refusal to join 1733-4 Drury Lane actors' rebellion forced him to re-invent Mrs Clive as a 'pious daughter'. In order to galvanize support for her, he broadened his publicity and made her an icon of conservative patriotic values and an enemy of Italian opera. Chapter 5 investigates Mrs Clive's management of her own image in her 1736 battle to retain the lead role in The Beggar's Opera. After her triumph, the duties of her new writer James Miller were simply to reflect audience perception of her. Chapters 6 and 7 analyse how the Clive persona, now rooted in public fantasy, shaped her two most important 'high style' musical roles, first in Thomas Arne's Comus, and then in Handel's Samson. Chapter 6 shows how the themes and musical procedures typical of the Clive persona were wedded to Milton's Comus, which then became the imaginative touchstone for a 'Comus' environment at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Chapter 7 examines her history as mediator of, and collaborator with, Handel, and shows how Handel's conceptualization of Dalilah in Samson mirrored that of Arne's Euphrosyne in Comus. Chapter 8 describes her ascendancy into 'polite society' through her friendship with Horace Walpole, and summarizes the means by which Mrs Clive's talents and audience perception of her shaped the works she performed.
Supervisor: Strohm, Reinhard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Musical theater ; History ; Women in the theater ; Women singers ; England ; 18th century ; Biography Musicals England London 18th century Theater England London 18th century Actors Great Britain Biography