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Opera of the Nobility

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Opera of the Nobility (or Nobility Opera[1]) was an opera company set up and funded in 1733 by a group of nobles (under Frederick, Prince of Wales) opposed to George II of England, in order to rival the (Second) Royal Academy of Music company under Handel (backed by George II and his queen).

Nicola Porpora was invited to be its musical director and Owen Swiny considered as its talent scout. The company had Senesino (who had fallen out with Handel) as its lead singer and was based at a theatre at Lincoln's Inn Fields under John Rich which had become available on Rich's opening of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. The company's first opera was Arianna in Nasso by Porpora, a direct challenge to Handel's Arianna in Creta.

The company was not a success in its initial 1733-34 season. Though Farinelli joined it late in the season and thus made it financially solvent, he was unable to prevent its eventual bankruptcy. At the end of its initial season it took over the King's Theatre from Handel.

The company went bankrupt and was dissolved in 1737 (shortly after appointing Giovanni Battista Pescetti its musical director), but not before it had poached some of Handel's best singers such as Francesca Cuzzoni and Antonio Montagnana and forced his company into bankruptcy too. The remnants of the two companies combined at the King's Theatre for the 1737-38 season. A second Opera of the Nobility was formed in 1740 by the Earl of Middlesex, but it did not survive for long.

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To your health! My dear Margaret! Will you marry me? I'm afraid you didn't hear my request. I heard it perfectly, my friend... and I thank you for it. Forgive my laughter. It was a stupid defensive reflex. It's a mistake, Carlo. I will never marry again. I owe Benedict's father that last fidelity. You need no further excuse than the horror I inspire in you. Oh, no! But I am too aware to share your blindness. Probably because I often play "gods" on stage... I dared to think I could be a man. Forgive me, both of you. It's impossible. I cannot. Come, Benedict. You're tearing me apart, Carlo. Sometimes, to protect love, we must crush our feelings. To hell with those rats! I am so tired. I am so tired! Too much pride. Don't despise your Work, Maestro. Who let you in? Don't resist. Follow the thread of my voice, like a musical progression. I only want to talk. - Where did you get that? - It doesn't matter. I came to offer you this Music. How dare you? I'll sing it for you. Sing it for me? It's time we made peace. We both had the Mystery revealed to us. Music belongs to me just as it belongs to you. What Music? Good enough to squeeze cheap tears from females who swoon over your voice? Is that how you presume to move me? With your Music, I will. Because of you, and to save this Theater... I exhaust myself composing works unworthy of my talent. You're causing my Music to deviate from its course. I'll never forgive you for that, Farinelli. A Castrato's voice is an example of nature abused... rerouted from its goal, in order to deceive. You've subverted your voice to virtuosity without soul... devoted only to artifice! Let it stay there! Give me back my score. You know, Maestro... some people say that my singing... has power over people. Don't turn my voice into an instrument of death. You don't frighten me. Everyone knows that Farinelli promotes his own legend. Keep on splitting their ears... with stupid Operas full of idiotic characters! Is that him? Yes, it is. You see, Carlo? I'm happy. My body doesn't refuse to grow. Are you in pain, child? It's not really pain. Just a feeling of utter fragility. Like a snail without its shell. Alexandra has the world's softest hands. But I won't share them with anyone else. Delightful! Quick, cover it up. We're helpless, Alexandra. But one thing is certain. You love me, don't you? Where is my score? Where does your brother hide the opera he stole from me? Tell me... and I'll leave you in peace, like a rat in your attic. Thieves! You've stolen my brother from me, Maestro. Your Music... separated us more than any ocean could have. Who composed this? Play it. Go ahead! Neither excessive... nor unnecessary flourishes. It doesn't seem like you. This is an entreaty. The harmony should be changed. Take this supplication into the dominant. Move over! Move over! After the major third... repeat the theme up a fourth. Your brother is a monster. Play! Go ahead! This is weak. Not enough violence! Wait. Expand the chord... and dare a chromatic move to D-flat. Not bad. Not bad at all! Who does he think he is? God? He's destroying you... and wants to destroy me, too. Bring me the rest. Some ink, pens, wine. What are you waiting for? When did you plan to finish it? When did you start this? When? The day when... The day my brother was castrated. That day, I promised him... it would be... our joint Masterpiece. You'll never finish this Opera... Never! You no longer have any reason to finish it. He doesn't need you anymore. It is you who needs him. You've been deprived of your instrument, Signor Broschi. You're like Narcissus without his reflection. Like Orpheo without his Lire You're right, Maestro. Without him...your Music no longer exists. Without him... you are nothing but silence... At 17... I composed my first melody. I wrote it for Carlo. You may be the only one who can understand, Maestro... His voice... His voice was... sublime... And my music flowed from my brother's throat. When did he fall off that horse? When Father died... Carlo became seriously ill. My father had entrusted him to me. He was delirious. I was afraid of losing him. I soothed him with some opium... and by telling him the story of an Opera... that I invented day after day to help him dream. He loved to sing, Maestro. He loved to sing. His face... His face was transfigured when he sang. That angelic voice had to be preserved. It had to be done quickly. Opium eventually wears off. His voice had to be kept from being ruined... by the repulsive alchemy... that time inflicts on the body. La Music unified us, Maestro... closer than lovers. Do you realize the scandal we will create? A Händel's Opera performed at the Nobles Theater! It's unheard of!. Incredible! How could I have let all this happen? Finally, Farinelli... what rendered us enemies for so many years... will be resolved tonight. It's time to settle our account before God. Do you remember the Opera... that your brother promised you when you were boys? Do you remember, Farinelli, with what emotion he spoke of it? Did you ever ask yourself... whether it was to soothe the pain of your castration... or to still his howling conscience? It's time you faced the truth... that has haunted you since childhood. Why do you refuse to hear what you've known all along? It's to this brother who had you castrated... that you dedicated all your talent. And to perpetuate this brotherly pact... you spat in the face of Händel. You managed to turn me into what you've always been. You castrated... my imagination. Starting now, I'll never compose another opera again. Never again! You are the first to know... and the only one to blame. Ask God for the strength to continue... and to sing, without wavering, the music you stole from me... Farinelli... Carlo, come on! Carlo! Come outside! Let's see you, Carlo! You've no right to reject me! I've looked for you for three years! Come out! I've looked for you everywhere! Carlo! Carlo! Answer me! You're a Broschi, Carlo, just like me! You can't have forgotten. That's impossible! Carlo, come on! Our Opera! I've finished it! Carlo, I've finished it! I composed it for you! ''Orpheo''! ''Orpheo''! Here it is! Come on, Carlo! Carlo, come out! Do something. I know you're there, Alexandra! Don't take him away from me! Don't take him away from me! Do you want to kill me? Is that what you want? Without me, you'd be nothing. I created you. Farinelli! I created you! Castrato! Castrato! Castrato! Carlo, please! He'll go crazy! Tell him you love him. Go ahead. Go. I can't. Your brother needs you, and so do I. I need you, too. Do you hear me? I sacrificed everything for this love. I know it's senseless... but I love you. I don't want to lose you. I don't want to lose you. Three years, Carlo! Three years! I knew it was you. It's very beautiful. Really? You really think so? It's your most beautiful composition! It's what I always waited for. We could work on it together. Perform ''Orpheo'' here in Madrid. Everyone will love it if you sing it. Your brother no longer sings, Riccardo... except for the King. And maybe for you? It's strange. There's something in your face when you suffer... that's poignantly reminiscent of your brother. That must be why I can't really hate you. Do you know how much I've suffered, writing our Opera? You're telling me about suffering, Riccardo? You? Can't you see, I'm asking for your forgiveness? Haven't I atoned for enough? I don't think so. Never enough! Is the Earth simply a tomb? Bring back the sun, Farinelli. Riccardo! Riccardo! My beloved brother. It is without much hope that I'll search in distant lands... amidst the clashes of war... for emotions as intense... as those I derived from Music. At this moment, Carlo... with my heart heavy from leaving you... I'm giving you back what I had taken from you. Your share of Humanity. I've burned our Opera. That Music and the past... are irrelevant today. But what I am leaving with you, Carlo... is that not also... ourjoint creation?



  1. ^ "Nobility Opera". Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.

This page was last edited on 29 April 2020, at 02:28
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