chapter  1
12 Pages

An Introduction to British Opera and Musical Stage Works in the Long Nineteenth Century

In The Orient on the Victorian Stage, Edward Ziter reflects that popular entertainment is 'possibly the most important area in which to examine transformations within orientalism', as the industry was influenced by much of the contemporary orientalist scholarship. This chapter explores features of orientalism and their transference to and influence on British perceptions of Other areas of the world through the medium of opera libretti. The aristocracy of the earlier nineteenth century considered British opera to be negligible, preferring Italian works, however the British tradition was supported by the upper middle classes, particularly women, many of whom purchased the fashionable songs as sheet music in piano reduction for home performance. The Mikado or the Town of Titipu was the first international British opera success since Balfe, it was the collaborators' longestrunning work, with 672 performances, and on its revival in 1896 it received over one thousand performances, becoming the first work at The Strand to do so.