Dumigan, Darryl Jacqueline (2014) Nicola Porpora’s operas for the ‘opera of the nobility’:the poetry and the music. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Studies of Italian opera in London during the first half of the eighteenth century have focussed on George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). As the most prolific composer of this genre in the English capital, this is unsurprising, but it has meant that other composers, contemporaneously active in this field, have been relatively neglected. This is especially true of the period 1733 – 1737, during which time two Italian opera companies attempted
to co-exist in the city. Leading one of the companies was Handel, with the Neapolitan, Nicola Porpora (1686-1768), recruited to compose the works for the rival opera company, the so-called ‘Opera of the Nobility’.
This study therefore discusses Porpora’s contribution of five operas to the London operatic stage during his three year residency between 1733 and 1736, in opposition to Handel’s company. This has required an investigation into the circumstances surrounding
the formation of the rival opera company, its operation in terms of repertoire and the influence of its librettists on Porpora’s works. Detailed analysis of the music has been undertaken to consider Porpora’s style, establish how he adapted this in London for an English, rather than Italian audience, and determine the efficacy of his communication of
the drama through his music. This thesis is the first large-scale detailed study of Porpora and his operas. Although the primary focus of this work is his London operas, the necessity of providing a context for
these has resulted in a contribution to greater knowledge of Porpora’s overall style. There is
still much work to be done on a full study of all of Porpora’s 44 operas and other compositions. This study also significantly adds to the current knowledge of operatic rivalry in London between 1733 and 1736, for the first time evaluating the fabric and importance of Porpora’s operas within this period.

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