Restoration opera and the failure of patronage
in From Republic to Restoration
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Despite experiments in the 1650s, through-sung opera failed to gain a firm foothold in Restoration England. Explanations for this circumstance have focussed on English taste, the finances of London’s theatre companies, and the popularity of native ‘dramatick opera’. While these were obstacles to the progress of through-sung opera in England, they do not explain why Thomas Betterton and the United Company ventured a rumoured £4000 on the production of Dryden’s and Grabu’s Albion and Albanius (1685). The lack of royal patronage has been overlooked as a barrier to the development of opera in England. Charles II displayed an ambivalent attitude to through-sung opera (English or otherwise) throughout his reign. His reticence to provide direct financial support was the most significant factor in the failure of the art form to find an important place in English culture of the Restoration period.

From Republic to Restoration

Legacies and departures

Editor: Janet Clare

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