Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name


Department (Legacy)

School of Music

Committee Chair

Ashworth, Jack

Author's Keywords

Opera; Italian; England; Burney; London; Eighteenth-century


Opera--England--London--18th century; Opera--Italy--18th century; Burney; Charles; 1726-1814


In his 1776 General History of Music, English musician and music historian Dr. Charles Burney (1726 -1814) wrote one of the most comprehensive and critically honest reviews of the introduction of Italian opera into England at the beginning of the eighteenth century, as well as its subsequent performances, successes, and struggles as it attempted to maintain a foothold in London. Burney’s copious chronological account includes the names of active composers and performers, and detailed information about the types and titles of operas performed in London during this time. He even offered opinions on several topics pertaining to Italian opera, including his adamant defenses of the foreign entertainment in his native England. I have extracted these opinions from the surrounding factual material and have compared them with other contemporary accounts from English subjects during the first half of the eighteenth century in order to ascertain general sentiments or concerns the English public had at this time towards a foreign entertainment becoming such a large part of their theatrical culture. Results illustrated a gradual shift in English opinion of Italian opera as the century progressed, as well as a change in what the English expected from the entertainment, its composers, and its performers.