Friday, May 25, 2018

Visual Artifacts of Opera at the British Museum

Giovanni Francesco Grimaldi
Stage-set design (garden of a villa for scene III of opera Il Trionfo della Pietà
staged by the Barberini in honor of Queen Christina's arrival in Rome)

ca. 1656
British Museum

Anonymous artist working in London
Opera-set at the Queen's Theatre, Haymarket
ca. 1710
British Museum

Anonymous artist working in London
Riot at Covent Garden Theatre in 1763
in consequence of the Managers refusing to admit half-price in the opera of Ataxerxes

British Museum

 Anonymous artist working in London
Venanzio Rauzzini kissing the hand of Catherine Schindlerin
 in Sacchini's Montezuma

ca. 1775-80
British Museum

Francesco Bartolozzi after William Lock
Scene from La Frasactana by Paisiello
British Museum

Finnish Opera

Grass grew long in the story.

Pieces clung to bedclothes. In the night he believed he grew taller.
Grass covered the dream of a serpent, eyes sunk in his head, tail of silk clover. The dream
     translated into silver tone. More serpent heads and the
dream turned into an opera.

It was the opera that made the dreamer famous. Location of opera could be
in any country, could be Antarctica, more likely Finland, where they believe
in silk clover, it is gold in a land of starved desire for summer.

The opera had a clover leaf copied in porcelain by Aalto, the famous
designer, who sewed the clover leaf into a white curtain. He designed a
window for the man when he looks out to sea in his serpent costume.

This opera that begins with a dream traveled
to Rome and Zagreb, traveled across continents, once by camel. The travels became
     more famous than
the opera. People began to forget whether the grass really had grown long,
and where the serpent came from.

The opera was called by another name and included a gold limousine.
Somewhere in Oceania they added mermaid elves.

– Barbara Guest (from Miniatures and Other Poems, 2002)

Robert Dighton
Angelica Catalani in Portogallo's Semiramide
hand-colored etching
British Museum

 Anonymous artist working in London
Angelica Catalani in Portogallo's Semiramide (satire)
hand-colored etching
British Museum

Rudolph Ackermann (publisher)
Saloon to the Private Boxes at Covent Garden Theatre
hand-colored etching
British Museum

Daniel Havell
Box entrance to the English Opera House (Lyceum Theatre)
etching, aquatint
British Museum

George and Isaac Cruikshank
Outside the Opera House at night (Covent Garden)
hand-colored etching
British Museum

Before Sextet

Use a new conductor every time-out
you have sextet – before foreshore,
before pen name gets anywhere
near any bogey opera glass
(to avoid expulsion to any bogey
flunkey that can carry infidel)
Handle conductor gently

Put conductor on as soon as
pen name is hard
be sure rolled-up ringworm is on
the outspokenness. And leave
space suit at tire to hold
semi-final when you come

Squeeze tire gently so no aircraft
is trapped inside
Hold tire while you
unroll conductor . . . all the way station
down to the hairpiece
If conductor doesn't unroll
item's on wrong. Throw item away
Start over with a new onion

– Bernadette Mayer (from Scarlet Tanager, 2005)

Alfred Edward Chalon
Opera House 1823 (women in box)
British Museum

Achille Devéria
Woman watching an opera from a loge
ca. 1830
hand-colored lithograph
British Museum

S. Huffman after Thomas Harper
The Opera (young woman with monocle leaning from box)
British Museum

Hippolyte Garnier after Charlemagne Oscar Guet
La Dame aux Camélias in opera box
British Museum