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Operatic GeographiesThe Place of Opera and the Opera House$
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Suzanne Aspden

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226595962

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226596150.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Opera at School: Mapping the Cultural Geography of Schoolgirl Performance

Opera at School: Mapping the Cultural Geography of Schoolgirl Performance

(p.26) Three Opera at School: Mapping the Cultural Geography of Schoolgirl Performance
Operatic Geographies

Amanda Eubanks Winkler

University of Chicago Press

Discovery of a letter about “Harry’s” music “made” for a ball at Josias Priest’s Chelsea boarding school has reopened questions about the relationship of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to Priest’s establishment. As scholars have noted, the performance of Dido at Priest’s school was not unusual; other works, including Thomas Duffett’s Beauties Triumph (1676) and John Blow’s Venus and Adonis (1684), were also performed at Chelsea. This essay both contextualizes these famous examples and moves beyond them, as I consider the interaction of pedagogical space with cultural product, mapping the geography of schoolgirl operatic performance in England in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Boarding schools, designed to train young ladies in the so-called ornamental arts, often were located in repurposed manor houses (aligning the schools with money and privilege). Because of their proximity to urban centers, these institutions had access to or were actually run by a person with close ties to a professional musician, dancer, or other stage professional. The performances given at schools occupied an interstitial space, belonging neither to the public stage, nor being entirely private.

Keywords:   Josias Priest, Dido and Aeneas, Besselsleigh, girls' school, John Blow, Henry Purcell

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