Think you know what the Royal Academy of Music is?

These days the Royal Academy of Music conjures up images (and sounds) of studious young musicians, fastidiously practising works from Handel to Ligeti, but before the school was founded in 1822, an opera company of the same name (with no connection to the current RAM) had existed 100 years prior.

On Friday 13 December, La Nuova Musica will be performing works originally commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music. Before the concert, their director David Bates will talk further about the Academy and it’s operas in an exclusive insight event free for ticket holders.

The Royal Academy of Music, the opera company, was founded in 1719 by a group of opera enthusiasts with an insatiable desire for Italianate music. It’s main purpose was to commission new operas from leading composers, and amongst the most popular composers of the time were Handel, Attilio Ariosti and Giovanni Bononcini.

Portrait of Handel in the National Portrait Gallery, by Balthasaw Denner, 1933.

Portrait of Handel in the National Portrait Gallery, by Balthasaw Denner, 1933.

Soon after his residency at Cannons, Handel was given the grand title of Master of the Orchestra where it was his duty to adapt operatic works from other countries, mainly Italy. While he was with the Academy, Handel wrote Ombra cara di mia sposa and Rodelinda (see video below), which became one of his most successful operas.

The in-house orchestra consisted of 32 musicians; once a member of the orchestra, oboist/flautist Charles Frederick Weideman is known for his suspected appearance in the amusingly-titled etching The Enraged Musician by William Hogarth. The drawing shows a comic scene wherein a violinist shows frustration at the noisy racket happening outside his window (musicians in London, can you relate to this scene?!).

The Enraged Musician by William Hogarth

The Enraged Musician by William Hogarth

The Royal Academy of Music produced 461 performances in total. Handel wrote thirteen operas, Bononcini wrote eight, and Ariosti wrote seven.

La Nuova Musica with Lawrence Zazzo
Friday 13 December
Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s)
7.00pm-9.10pm
Buy tickets now.

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