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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: 18 September 2021

London’s Opera House in the Urban Landscape

London’s Opera House in the Urban Landscape

(p.39) Four London’s Opera House in the Urban Landscape
Operatic Geographies

Michael Burden

University of Chicago Press

Scholars have tended to present the 1705 King’s Theatre as part of a newly fashionable area in the developing West End. But a closer examination of the development of London suggests that it was not that ‘newly fashionable’; Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans, had been developing the area of St James’s since the Restoration, and by the time of his death in 1684 the fabric of the area was virtually complete. It was not, then, a great gamble to have sited the King’s Theatre in Haymarket; it placed the fashionable house for the luxury item of opera near the homes of those who could - and did - afford it. But even in the grandeur of the West End, the Opera House originally had little or no front to the street, being surrounded by shops; this was the product of London’s commercially minded developers and theatre promoters. As the 18th century wore on, the theatre began to develop a place in the streetscape, culminating at the end of the 19th century in the construction of a large and pompous building, which nonetheless – as this article argues – remained part of the commercial landscape.

Keywords:   Opera House, King’s Theatre, John Nash, John Vanbrugh, Haymarket, Regent Street

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