Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1739-1745 - Haymarket (Westminster)

Charles Sackville, Earl of Middlesex, made his first Grand Tour from 1731 to 1733 and four years later he took further trips to the Continent. On his return to London in January 1739 he staged Angelico e Medoro, an opera by Giovanni Battista Pescetti from a text by Pietro Metastasio.

The opera was a showcase for the limited talents of Lucia Panichi, La Muscovita’, his mistress from about 1739 to about 1742. His ambition was to revive full-scale Italian opera seasons in London, recently abandoned by Swiss-born impresario Johann Jakob Heidegger for financial reasons.

Sackville staged a season in 1739/40 at the Little Theatre, Haymarket. For the 1741/2 season he entered into partnership with seven other noblemen to stage performances at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, until 1745. Francesco Vanneschi acted as manager and librettist; and Baldassare Galuppi was resident composer. The latter stayed in London for eighteen months and of the eleven operas under his direction at least three were his own compositions with texts by Vanneschi; a fourth was presented shortly after he left London to return to Venice in May 1743.

Vanesschi, who had made his name as a librettist in Florence in 1732 when he wrote Enrico, remained active in London. His produced the libretto for Gluck’s opera La caduta dei gigantic which premiered at the King’s Theatre in 1746. Vanneschi resigned from opera management after the 1758/9 season and died in 1760.

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