This is the story of the first opera troupe to go around the world, during the 1820s and 1830s. Their circumnavigation was not planned, and has since been almost entirely forgotten. The troupe itself consisted of just four singers - three from Milan and one from Naples - who endured illness, political upheaval, inadequate theatres and malicious reviewers in the course of a voyage from Brazil to India. Despite such hardships, they also gave the first performances of Italian opera in locations as various as Santiago de Chile, Macao and Calcutta, and helped to generate a South American passion for the music of Gioachino Rossini whose effects can still be heard in various national anthems written around this time. The troupe was also taken up in the European press as a realisation of a popular fantasy of the time about the potential for opera to become a global phenomenon. In this way, their journey marks the starting point in the process of operatic globalization that would gather momentum later in the nineteenth century, and that continues to this day.
Dr Benjamin Walton is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Cambridge and Fellow, Director of Studies in Music and Dean of College at Jesus College. He has written widely on Italian opera in the first half of the nineteenth century, with a particular focus on the reception of the music of Rossini. He is also co-editor of Cambridge Opera Journal.
Kindly Supported by The Italian Cultural Institute
Drinks will be offered after the talk