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Title: The historical context of Handel's Semele
Author: Andrews, J. K. F.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
This thesis attempts to locate Handel’s Semele within the broadest possible appreciation of the political, religious, moral and literary ideas of its time, to show not only how they enhance our understanding of it, but more importantly, to show how it develops and broadens our understanding of them. The first chapter examines the development of Congreve’s original libretto in the context of Queen Anne’s reign and the approaching Hanoverian settlement. It traces his sources, including both Ovid and eighteenth century English and French dramas. It locates his treatment in the context both of the national politics of the Act of Settlement and Hanoverian succession and the theatrical and moral politics of Jeremy Collier’s attack on Congreve in 1698, and shows, through a study of the libretto, how Congreve was responding to a range of political and moral imperatives. The second chapter considers the social and political context of Handel’s production. It illustrates how Semele related to national political concerns, to the changing moral climate of Georgian Britain, and to the political manoeuvrings of London’s theatre companies. It suggests that Semele needs to be understood within multiple and conflicting contexts, which included the fall of Walpole, the rise of Countess Yarmouth and the Patriot King opposition in the political sphere, and Arne’s English masques, Lord Middlesex and opposition to Messiah in the theatrical sphere. The third chapter considers some of the musical and artistic influences on Handel’s composition of Semele. It outlines the other settings of Semele that already existed and considers which of these, if any, might have influenced Handel’s version. The fourth chapter examines in detail the development of Handel’s libretto. It traces the process of adaptation to establish at which stage changes were made in order to show exactly what concerns motivated the changes. It also examines how his approach to performing Semele changed during the season of 1744.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.596113  DOI: Not available
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