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From Amelia to Calista and Beyond: Sentimental Heroines, ‘Fallen’ Women and Handel’s Oratorio Revisions for Susanna Cibber

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2015


The history of singer and famed tragedienne Susanna Cibber (1714–66) demonstrates the influences of the British theatre and the culture of sentiment on Handel’s oratorios. Throughout Cibber’s long career, audiences lauded the ‘natural’ qualities of her performances, conflating her onstage and offstage identities as both deeply moving and holding great potential for moral instruction. In the late 1730s and early 1740s this presumed symbiosis was challenged by a highly publicised sex scandal that had profound effects on Cibber’s roles in the spoken theatre. At the same moment, Handel began crafting parts for Cibber in Messiah, Samson, Hercules and Belshazzar in ways that showed awareness of the new complexity of her image. This article both illustrates the nature of Cibber’s evolving public identity and explains Handel’s revisions of pre-existing parts for her. It shows that Handel recognised the challenges of Cibber’s troubled public image and continued to highlight her greatest skills, setting her the task of harnessing the power of sympathy, drawing audiences in by appealing to them as fellow men and women of sensibility.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press 2015 

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Jonathan Rhodes Lee, University of Chicago;


1 This is the earliest form of this famous anecdote that I have yet found, dating from 1780, in Davies, Thomas, Memoirs of the Life of David Garrick (London, 1780)Google Scholar, II: 110–11; Davies attributes the comment to ‘a certain bishop’, and admits, ‘I do not vouch for the following story, yet it will serve to prove the public opinion of her musical expression.’ Susanna Cibber’s biographer, Mary Nash, also cites this document, although she never quotes it as it stands there: The Provoked Wife: The Life and Times of Susannah Cibber (London, 1977), 342. The more familiar form of this quotation, found throughout the literature on Messiah, reads ‘Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee.’ This version appears to be a nineteenth-century rendering; Donald Burrows traced it as far back as 1857 to Victor Schoelcher’s biography of Handel, quoting ‘fragmenta’ from the British Museum Library (Handel: ‘Messiah’; Cambridge Music Handbooks (Cambridge, 1991), 111, n. 35).

2 Davies, Memoirs, II: 110. Nineteenth- and twentieth-century sources generally spell her name ‘Susannah’, but publications from her own lifetime omit the ‘h’. See, for instance, her husband Theophilus’s published correspondence addressed to ‘My Dearest Susanna Maria’: Four Original Letters viz. Two from a Husband to a Gentleman and Two from a Husband to a Wife (London, 1739), 1.

3 Sheridan, Thomas, British Education: or, the Source of the Disorders of Great Britain (Dublin, 1756)Google Scholar, 306. Throughout this article, I am indebted to the many overviews of the eighteenth-century culture of sentiment. These include, but are not limited to, the following: Barker-Benfield, G.J., The Culture of Sensibility (Chicago, 1992)Google Scholar; Goring, Paul, ‘The Art of Acting: Mid-Century Stagecraft and the Broadcast of Feeling’, in The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Culture (Cambridge, 2005), 114141Google Scholar; Motooka, Wendy, The Age of Reasons: Quixotism, Sentimentalism, and Political Economy in Eighteenth-Century Britain (New York, 1998)Google Scholar; Mullan, John, Sentiment and Sociability (Oxford, 1988)Google Scholar; and Todd, Janet, Sensibility: An Introduction (New York, 1986)Google Scholar.

4 Burney, Charles, An Account of the Musical Performances in Westminster-Abbey, and the Pantheon (London, 1785), 2526Google Scholar.

5 See, for example, Aspden, Suzanne, ‘Singers’ Blueprints’, Cambridge Opera Journal 9 (1997), 185193Google Scholar; Aspden, , ‘The “Rival Queans” and the Play of Identity in Handel’s Admeto’, Cambridge Opera Journal 18 (2006), 301–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Aspden, , The Rival Sirens: Performance and Identity on Handel’s Operatic Stage (Cambridge, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hurley, David, Handel’s Muse: Patterns of Creation in his Oratorios and Musical Dramas, 1743–1751 (Oxford, 2001)Google Scholar; Joncus, Berta, ‘“His Spirit is in Action Seen”: Milton, Mrs. Clive and the Simulacra of the Pastoral in Comus’, Eighteenth-Century Music 2 (2005), 740CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Joncus, , ‘Handel at Drury Lane: Ballad Opera and the Production of Kitty Clive’, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 131 (2006), 176226CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Joncus, , ‘“In Wit Superior, as in Fighting”: Kitty Clive and the Conquest of a Rival Queen’, Huntington Library Quarterly 74 (2011), 2342CrossRefGoogle Scholar; LaRue, C. Steven, Handel and His Singers (London and New York, 1995)Google Scholar, esp. 124; Jonathan Rhodes Lee, ‘Virtue Rewarded: Handel’s Oratorios and the Culture of Sentiment’, PhD diss., University of California, (2013), esp. chs. 1 and 2.

6 Ownership of roles was both figurative and literal. In terms of the physically printed play, an actor’s part was just what its name implied: a part of a play – that is, a small, printed book that contained only the lines that an actor was to speak, with cues from the other parts. When an actor turned over parts to another member of a company, the exchange was therefore very much a physical one. See Holland, Peter, The Ornament of Action (Cambridge, 1979)Google Scholar, 65. On sequels, see 67–9.

7 Aspden discusses the typecasting phenomenon in London opera extensively in Rival Sirens, esp. 50–5, but she makes the important distinction that the personas she studies, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, were dependent upon one another for their definitions. See also LaRue, Handel and His Singers, 158.

8 For a description of such hectic activity by a Handelian singer, see Jenkins, Neil, ‘John Beard: The Tenor Voice that Inspired Handel’, Göttinger Händel-Beiträge 12 (2008), 197–216Google Scholar. Catherine Clive also frequently acted in mainpiece and afterpiece in the same evening, including both musical and spoken productions. On rehearsal practices, see Stern, Tiffany, Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan (Oxford, 2000), 198203Google Scholar, 214–15, 253–61.

9 Freeman, Lisa, Character’s Theater: Genre and Identity on the Eighteenth-Century English Stage (Philadelphia, 2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 20.

10 Freeman, Character’s Theater, 27.

11 Straub, Kristina, Sexual Suspects: Eighteenth-Century Players and Sexual Ideology (Princeton, 1992)Google Scholar, chs. 5–6; Nussbaum, Felicity, Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theatre (Philadelphia, 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. ch. 3.

12 Freeman, Character’s Theater, 38–9.

13 Aspden, Rival Sirens, 14.

14 Samuel Pepys remarked in his diary that 3 January 1660 (OS) was the first date that he had ever seen a woman on the stage. On the history of female acting, see Richards, Sandra, The Rise of the English Actress (New York, 1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For a detailed view of Gwyn’s reputation on and off the stage as ‘the protestant whore’, see Richards, , Rise of the English Actress, 1623Google Scholar. For an excellent overview of Oldfield’s importance in the early eighteenth century, see Nussbaum, Rival Queens, 100–12.

15 For information on both Siddons and Bracegirdle, see Straub, Sexual Suspects, and Richards, Rise of the English Actress, ch. 4.

16 Cibber, Colley, An Apology for the Life of Mr. Colley Cibber (London, 1740), 154155Google Scholar. For other eighteenth-century advocacies of the morality of the English stage, see, for example, Chetwood, William, A General History of the Stage, from Its Origin in Greece Down to the Present Time (London, 1749)Google Scholar, 28; Darwin, Erasmus, A Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools (Derby, 1797)Google Scholar, 32.

17 Chetwood, , General History of the Stage, 25Google Scholar.

18 Chetwood, , General History of the Stage, 2829Google Scholar. See also Aspden, , Rival Sirens, 2025Google Scholar.

19 These descriptions of the young Cibber come from the prologue to Aaron Hill’s Zara, her first major appearance in spoken theatre (London, 1736; rep. 1791), xviii.

20 Gentleman, Francis, The Dramatic Censor, or, Critical Companion (London, 1770)Google Scholar, II: 206.

21 A particularly extreme version of these viewpoints can be found in Herbage, Julian, ‘The Truth about Mrs. Cibber’, The Monthly Musical Record 78 (1948), 59–68Google Scholar. See also Dean, Winton, Handel’s Dramatic Oratorios and Masques (London, 1959)Google Scholar, 107, 349–50; Weinstock, Herbert, Handel, 2nd edn (New York, 1959) 234235Google Scholar; Lang, Paul Henry, George Frideric Handel (New York, 1966), 335336Google Scholar; Keates, Jonathan, Handel: The Man and His Music (New York, 1985), 242243Google Scholar; Messmer, Franzpeter, Georg Friedrich Händel (Düsseldorf, 2008), 230231Google Scholar. One notable exception to this view is ch. 5 of Richard Luckett, Handel’s Messiah: A Celebration (London, 1992). Luckett perhaps goes a bit too far, making Cibber the central protagonist of the Messiah premiere. He also gets some details incorrect, such as claiming that Cibber played the role of Euphrosyne in Dublin performances of Thomas Augustine Arne’s Comus. Although Cibber appears to have sung some of Euphrosyne’s numbers in this production (including ‘Sweet echo’, which became one of her signature songs), Dublin newspaper advertisements clearly indicate that Cibber played the morally virtuous role of The Lady, the same role she had played in the original London productions. (See Greene, John C. and Clark, Gladys L.H., The Dublin Stage: 1720–1745 (Bethlehem, PA, 1993)Google Scholar, 297. Luckett follows Brian Boydell in this error; see A Dublin Musical Calendar: 1700–1760 (Blackrock, 1988), 76.) Nevertheless, Luckett clearly expresses the evident connections between Cibber’s private life, her theatrical experiences in Dublin and the Messiah premiere. Nash, too, writes extensively about this moment of Cibber’s return to public life in The Provoked Wife, 164–82.

22 Sherbo, Arthur, English Sentimental Drama (East Lansing, 1957), 139140Google Scholar; Ellis, Frank, Sentimental Comedy (Cambridge, 1991)Google Scholar, 20; Goehring, Edmund, ‘The Sentimental Muse of Opera Buffa’, in Opera Buffa in Mozart’s Vienna, ed. Mary Hunter and James Webster (Cambridge, 1999), 120121Google Scholar.

23 The following arias from Amelia survive in single-sheet printings: A Favourite Song in the Opera of Amelia (‘Amelia wishes when she dies’), RISM A/I L449; A Song in the Opera of Amelia (‘Ah traitress, wicked and impure’), RISM A/I L450 (RISM incorrectly titles this work ‘A traitress wicked and impure’). Several arias were also included in British Musical Miscellany (London, 1734–7), II, all titled ‘A Song in the Opera of Amelia by Mr. Lampe’: ‘Ah traitress, wicked and impure’, ‘My charmer’s very name’ and ‘The youngling ravish’d from its nest’.

24 Sherbo, ‘Repetition and Prolongation’, ch. 3 of English Sentimental Drama. The idea of sentimental opera as a subgenre of its own has been theorised by several scholars: see (among others) Hunter, Mary, ‘Pamela: The Offspring of Richardson’s Heroine in Eighteenth-Century Opera’, Mosaic 18 (1985), 61–76Google Scholar; Hunter, , ‘The Fusion and Juxtaposition of Genres in Opera Buffa, 1760–1800’, Music & Letters 67 (1986), 363380CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hunter, , The Culture of Opera Buffa in Mozart’s Vienna (Princeton, 1999), 8492Google Scholar; Waldoff, Jessica, Recognition in Mozart’s Operas (Oxford, 2006), 104164CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Waldoff, , ‘Reading Mozart’s Operas for the Sentiment’, in Mozart Studies, ed. Simon P. Keefe (Cambridge, 2006), 74108Google Scholar; Waldoff, ‘Sentiment and Sensibility in La vera costanza’, in Haydn Studies, ed. W. Dean Sutcliffe (Cambridge, 1998), 70–119; Castelvecchi, Stefano, Sentimental Opera: Questions of Genre in the Age of Bourgeois Drama (Cambridge, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The English operas discussed in this article are equally classifiable as sentimental operas and date from decades before the opere buffe that these scholars discuss. See also Lee, ‘Virtue Rewarded’, ch. 1.

25 See and Seem Blind, or, a Critical Dissertation on the Publick Diversions (London, n.d. [1732]); facsim. rep. with an introduction by Robert D. Hume, Augustan Reprint Society 235 (Los Angeles, 1986), 13–14. Hume has suggested that See and Seem Blind might have been written by Aaron Hill, playwright, theatre manager and supposed recipient of the document.

26 There was also a public rehearsal of Flavio that coincided with Amelia’s sixth performance, on 17 April. See entries for February–April in The London Stage, 1660–1800, ed. Arthur H. Scouten (Carbondale, 1968), vol. 3. This was a revival of an opera that had premiered in 1723 – and one that, as Winton Dean has demonstrated, was not popular in either of its periods on the stage. To add insult to injury, Cibber was responsible for the one successful aria from this opera, ‘Quanto dolci’, which she performed between acts of spoken plays in 1733 and 1734 (Handel’s Operas, 1704–1726 (Oxford, 1987; 2nd edn Woodbridge, 2009), 474).

27 For the most authoritative statement on the status and history of this ‘pirated’ production and the other English operas of this period, see Milhous, Judith and Hume, Robert D., ‘J.F. Lampe and English Opera at the Little Haymarket in 1732–3’, Music & Letters 78 (1997), 502531CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Lord, Phillip, ‘The English-Italian Opera Companies, 1732–3’, Music & Letters 45 (1964), 239251CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Diane Dugaw has persuasively read Acis and Galatea for its ‘modern manner’, as possessing a conflict between the artificiality of the pastoral and the genuine nature of personal sensibility, in Deep Play: John Gay and the Invention of Modernity (Newark, DE, 2001), 165.

28 For the use of dagger scenes as a stereotypical device of the English stage, see Aspden, Rival Sirens, 64 and Howe, Elizabeth, The First English Actresses: Women and Drama 1660–1700 (Cambridge, 1992)Google Scholar, 148.

29 The legend of Rosamond Clifford was frequently retold from the sixteenth century onwards. For a useful overview, see Heltzel, Virgil, Fair Rosamond: A Study of the Development of a Literary Theme (Evanston, 1947)Google Scholar. For more detailed summaries on the contents of these operas, see Roger Fiske, English Theatre Music in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1973; 2nd edn 1986). See also Lord, ‘English-Italian Opera Companies’, and Milhous and Hume, ‘J.F. Lampe and English Opera’.

30 On the history of the settings of Rosamond, see Fiske, English Theatre Music, 45–7.

31 The third Earl of Shaftesbury theorised the moral sense in Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (London, 1711).

32 For a useful overview of sentimental philosophy, see Todd, Sensibility, and Motooka, Age of Reasons, ch. 2.

33 Morell, Thomas, Sermon Preached at the Anniversary Meeting of the Sons of the Clergy in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (London, 1772)Google Scholar, 11.

34 Hill, Zara, lines 149–50.

35 Hill, Zara, xiv.

36 See also entry for this date in Scouten, The London Stage.

37 The term ‘criminal conversation’ was used for adultery in English law since at least the sixteenth century.

38 There were two separate publications detailing the proceedings of two trials, both published anonymously: Tryal of a Cause for Criminal Conversation (London, 1739) and The Tryals of Two Causes between Theophilus Cibber, Gent., Plaintiff, and William Sloper, Esq., Defendant, the First for Criminal Conversation, the Second for Detaining the Plaintiff’s Wife (London, 1740). The story remained popular enough to merit a reprint in Dublin in 1749. Twentieth- and twenty-first-century audiences also seem to be drawn to this seedier side of Cibber’s history. A Hallmark television special from 1963 called A Cry of Angels includes references to the affair. An updated film version of the story was apparently in production a few years ago, directed by Stephen Fry; see Dalya Alberge, ‘Hallelujah! Sex Life of Handel’s Muse Coming to Screen Near You’, The Times (14 January 2008), 30.

39 Tryal of a Cause, 15.

40 Tryal of a Cause, 15.

41 Tryal of a Cause, 4.

42 Tryal of a Cause, 5.

43 Tryal of a Cause, 6.

44 Tryal of a Cause, 10.

45 Tryal of a Cause, 10. On this rivalry, see Joncus, ‘“In Wit Superior”’.

46 Tryal of a Cause, 29.

47 Francis Truelove, The Comforts of Matrimony (London, 1739), 15.

48 Tryal of a Cause, 31; see also 29.

49 Theophilus’s first trial ended in his favour, but awarded him the paltry sum of £10. His more successful second suit is recorded in The Tryals of Two Causes, 1–12. On Cibber’s absence during the period 1739–1741, see Nash, The Provoked Wife, 162–3. Appendix 2.1 of Lee, ‘Virtue Rewarded’ gives a calendar of Cibber’s activities up through her years of involvement with Handel. See also Donald Burrows, ‘Handel’s Dublin Performances’, in The Maynooth International Musicological Conference 1995, Selected Proceedings, Part 1, Irish Musical Studies 4 (Dublin, 1996), 46–70.

50 This was a role long played by Catherine Clive, whose rivalry with Cibber is described below.

51 When Cibber played this hypochondriac, newspapers advertised it as ‘her first time of performing since her late Indisposition’, indicating that she had cancelled several Dublin performances preceding this one due to illness (quoted in Scouten, The London Stage, entry for 5 April 1742). Knowledge of this fact would have added yet another parallel between stage persona and personal life, albeit this time a purely comic one.

52 Holland, , The Ornament of Action, 80Google Scholar.

53 Todd, Sensibility, 38.

54 Data gathered from the following sources: Scouten, The London Stage, Greene and Clarke, The Dublin Stage, and private correspondence with John Greene, who provided entries that were omitted from The Dublin Stage.

55 The part of Jane was taken by Hannah Pritchard (1711–68), a versatile actress who moved between multiple lines throughout her career.

56 Rowe, Nicholas, The Fair Penitent: A Tragedy (London, 1742)Google Scholar, 70.

57 The Tryals of Two Causes, 23.

58 The Tryals of Two Causes, 23–4.

59 The Tryals of Two Causes, 31–2.

60 Truelove, Comforts of Matrimony, 9.

61 Truelove, Comforts of Matrimony, 37, paraphrasing Prior, Matthew, ‘Monsieur de la Fontaine’s Hans Carvel Imitated’, in Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1707)Google Scholar, 33.

62 Sylvanus Urban, Gent., ‘To Mrs. Cibber, on her Acting at Dublin’, The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle 12 (1742), 158. This poem appeared in March 1742.

63 Cibber first played Laetitia on 18 January 1742; the first instance of her appearance as Calista in The Fair Penitent was (notably) her Dublin benefit performance on 1 February. She also added Leonora before the publication of this poem, for the first time on 28 January. See Lee, ‘Virtue Rewarded’, 199.

64 The paragraphs that follow draw heavily on Hans Dieter Clausen, ed., Samson, Hallische Händel-Ausgabe, ser. 1/18. 2 vols. (Kassel, 2011), particularly vol. 2, which contains Clausen’s Kritischer Bericht and appendices. See also Burrows, Donald and Ronish, Martha J., A Catalogue of Handel’s Musical Autographs (Oxford, 1994)Google Scholar.

65 Clausen has shown that there was a long gap between Smith’s copying of Act I and Acts II and III. The performance score’s later acts represented the oratorio’s revised version at the time of their initial copying; the performance score’s first act, however, required pasting and emendation. See Clausen, Samson, II: 438.

66 Clausen, Samson, I: xxi. See also II: 430–9, esp. 433 and 438. These changes entered by fits and starts; Clausen has traced four phases of revision of Act I.

67 See Joncus, ‘“In Wit Superior”’. Joncus has also discussed Clive’s persona and its influence on her musical roles elsewhere; see n. 5.

68 This dyad also marked the Cuzzoni-Bordoni rivalry; see Aspden, Rival Sirens, 65.

69 The eighteenth-century references to the Polly rivalry have been thoroughly covered in histories about the actresses and Drury Lane since the nineteenth century. For a list of the relevant letters and statements, see Milhous, Judith and Hume, Robert D., eds., A Register of English Theatrical Documents, 1660–1737 (Carbondale, 1991)Google Scholar, II: 883–92. See also Fitzgerald, Percy, The Life of Mrs Catherine Clive (London, 1888), 1623Google Scholar; Fyvie, John, Comedie Queens of the Georgian Era (New York, 1907), 7778Google Scholar; Smith, Dane Farnsworth, Plays about the Theatre in England (London, 1936), 194201Google Scholar; Nash, The Provoked Wife, 94–102; and Joncus, ‘“In Wit Superior’”.

70 See Burrows, Donald, Samson (London, 2005)Google Scholar, xi. Thomas Lowe sang this number, as indicated in the autograph in a personnel list supplied during the second stage of revision that gives the name ‘Mr. Low’ (Clausen, Samson, I: 433).

71 See also Clausen, Samson, I: xxi and II: 522.

72 This version is printed in Clausen, Samson, Appendix 1b.

73 Throughout this article, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation for quotations are given as in published librettos of the eighteenth century.

74 Handel indicates this change in the autograph by writing ‘Miss Edwards in Soprano’ (B-Lbl RM 20.f.6, f. 31v). The singer was almost certainly Mary Edwards (fl. 1737–69), the daughter of a singer named Thomas and a pupil of Kitty Clive. See Highfill, Philip H., Burnim, Kalman A., et al., A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660–1800 (Carbondale, 1984)Google Scholar, X: 370, s.v. ‘Mozeen, Mrs. Thomas, Mary?, née Edwards’. On this aria and its keys in extant sources, see Mark Stahura, ‘The Publishing Copy Text of Handel’s Samson’, The Journal of Musicology 4 (1985–6), 209.

75 B-lbl RM 20.f.6, f.31v. This incomplete recitative was based on two disparate sets of lines from Milton’s Samson Agonistes: lines 1025–7 (‘Is it for that such outward ornament / Was lavish’t on thir Sex, that inward gifts / Were left for haste unfinish’t, judgment scant’) and 1035–40 (‘Seeming at first all heavenly under virgin veil, / Soft, modest, meek, demure, / Once join’d, the contrary she proves, a thorn / Intestin, far within defensive arms / A cleaving mischief, in his way to vertue / Adverse and turbulent, or by her charms’).

76 See B-Lbl RM 20.f.6, ff. 17v–23v. The aria version is inserted on ff. 18r–19v.

77 Act I scene 2.

78 Act I scene 2.

79 Act II scene 4; Act III scene 1 (twice each, entrance and exit).

80 Act III scene 3.

81 The data for the non-Handelian portion of this table were compiled from the following sources (parenthetical dates indicate the years in which Cibber first sang the songs): Lampe, from Amelia: ‘Amelia wishes when she dies’, ‘My charmer’s very name’, ‘The youngling ravished from its nest’ (1732); Arne, from Rosamond: ‘Beneath some hoary mountain’, ‘Rise, glory, rise’, ‘Was ever nymph like Rosamond’ (1733); Arne, from The Opera of Operas: ‘In that dear hope’ (1733); Charke, from The Festival (1733): ‘Sweet linnets’, ‘Ah how inviting’; Seedo, song used in The Lottery: ‘I’ve often heard’ (1735); Boyce, song used in The Conscious Lovers: ‘From place to place forlorn I go’ (1736); Anonymous, from Othello: ‘The Willow Song’ (1736); Eccles, song used in The Provok’d Wife: ‘When yielding first to Damon’s flame’ (1742); Carey, songs used in The Provok’d Husband: ‘Stand by! Clear the way!’, ‘Oh I’ll have a husband and marry’ (1745); Arne, song used in The Foundling: ‘For a shape and a bloom’ (1748); Arne, song used in The Oracle: ‘Would you in her your love be blest’ (1752); Arne, from Alfred: ‘See Liberty, virtue, and honour’, ‘Come, calm content’ (1754); Michael Arne, song from The Winter’s Tale: ‘Come my good shepherd’ (1756); Thomas Augustine Arne, song from The Way to Keep Him: ‘Ye fair possess’d of ev’ry charm’ (1761). I am indebted to Donnelly’s Appendix 4-A for much of this data (37–54).

82 See, for instance, the series of choral movements relating to mankind’s fallibility and Christ’s crucifixion in Part II of Messiah: ‘Surely, he hath borne our griefs’, ‘And with his stripes’, and ‘All we like sheep’. For further discussion on Handel, choice of keys, and affects, see Harold Julius Fink, ‘The Doctrine of Affections and Handel: The Background, Theory, and Practice of the Doctrine of Affections, with a Comprehensive Analysis of the Oratorios of G.F. Handel’, PhD diss., Case Western Reserve University (1953); Harris, Ellen, ‘The Italian in Handel’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 33 (1980), 473478CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Leichtentritt, Hugo, Music History and Ideas (Cambridge, MA, 1946)Google Scholar, 143; O’Connell, Michael and Powell, John, ‘Music and Sense in Handel’s Setting of Milton’s L’Allegro and Il Penseroso’, Eighteenth-Century Studies 12 (1978), 31–35Google Scholar; and Webb, Ralph, ‘Handel’s Oratorios as Drama’, College Music Symposium 23 (1983), 126135Google Scholar and 138–40. On the attitudes of various writers (including Handel’s friend Johann Mattheson) towards F minor and key characteristics, see Rita Steblin, A History of Key Characteristics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (Ann Arbor, 1983; 2nd edn Rochester, 2002).

83 Molly Donnelly has pointed out that as late as 1761 Cibber was still singing pieces with high ranges, reaching up to a’’; for example, she sang in this range in ‘Ye fair possess’d of ev’ry charm’, composed by her brother for use in the play The Way to Keep Him in 1761 (‘Susannah Maria Arne Cibber: A Recording and Study of Songs that were Performed by the Eighteenth-Century Singer, “Mrs. Cibber”’, DMA diss., University of Maryland (1991), 53–4).

84 These measures are simplified in the performance score, but it seems likely that this was the version that Cibber sang and that the emendation came at a later date, when a different singer took over the role. Walsh’s early edition, published just one month after the work’s premiere (London, 1743), contains a shortened version of ‘O mirrour’, which seems to indicate that some abbreviation was in fact undertaken during the oratorio’s first run. However, this early edition does contain the measure with the g, and its indication ‘Sung by Mrs Cibber’ argues in favour of the low passage being present at the premiere.

85 Todd, Sensibility, 23–8. On the physicality of the culture of sensibility and on shared suffering as part of an ethics of sympathy, see Rousseau, George, ‘Nerves, Spirits, and Fibres: Towards Defining the Origins of Sensibility’, in Studies in the Eighteenth Century III, ed. R.F. Brissenden and J.C. Eade (Toronto, 1976), 137157Google Scholar; Fiering, Norman, ‘Irresistible Compassion: an Aspect of Eighteenth-Century Sympathy and Humanitarianism’, Journal of the History of Ideas 37 (1976), 195–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility, 67ff.; and Barker-Benfield, , ‘The Origins of Anglo-American Sensibility’, in Charity, Philanthropy, and Civility in American History (Cambridge, 2002), 8586Google Scholar.

86 Smith, Adam, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 3rd edn (Edinburgh, 1767), 23Google Scholar.

87 Dejanira was sung by the singer known only as ‘Miss Robinson’, who went on to take over a number of Cibber’s parts, including Daniel in the premiere of Belshazzar following Cibber’s resignation due to illness.

88 He changed the clef from C4 to C3 and generally raised the pitch of the vocal line to suit Cibber’s compass. My discussion of the revisions of Lichas’s part is based on inspection of the autograph manuscript. See also Dean, Handel’s Dramatic Oratorios, 430.

89 Handel also wrote Lichas’s name into the original scene description on f. 4r.

90 The autograph bears markings that prove this aria for Lichas to be a revision. A note at the end of the recitative ‘A train of captives’, which was the only music between Dejanira’s aria and the chorus ‘Let none despair’ in the original manuscript, signals the change of order: ‘segue Aria of Lichas the smiling Hours’. A note to the right of the ‘da capo’ indication for Lichas’s aria signifies that the chorus follows: ‘poi seg[ue] il Cor[o] Let none despair’.

91 The symbol, ⨶, is on f. 54v. Handel also cancelled the original indication that the chorus was to follow at this point.

92 Dejanira’s response and Lichas’s retort were composed on a single staff on the back of the inserted aria, f. 57v, along with a note to direct the copyist back to the chorus.

93 Examples of such unwaveringly faithful men include Jaffier in Venice Preserv’d (1682), the title character of Oroonoko (1688) and Bevil Jr in The Conscious Lovers (1722). Male characters whose greatest moral accomplishment was the reformation of their prior rakish behaviour number among the most frequent character types in eighteenth-century literature and drama; Mr B in Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) is perhaps the most familiar example to modern readers.

94 Belshazzar sets events related in Daniel 5.

95 Belshazzar’s number is ‘Let festal joy triumphant reign’ (Part I scene 4).

96 Haywood, Eliza, Epistles for Ladies (London, 1756)Google Scholar, I: 164.

97 Letters of Laurence Sterne, ed. L.P. Curtis (Oxford, 1935), 401.

98 I take the phrase ‘rends the Heart-Strings’ from Rowe, The Fair Penitent, 65.

99 Charles Burney, ‘Expression, in Music’, in The Cyclopædia, or, Universal Dictionary of the Arts, Sciences, and Literature, ed. Abraham Rees (London, 1802–20).

100 Williams, David, A Letter to David Garrick, Esq. (London, 1772), 1617Google Scholar.

101 Hill, John, The Actor: A Treatise on the Art of Playing, Interspersed with Theatrical Anecdotes, Critical Remarks on Plays, and Occasional Observations on Audiences (London, 1750)Google Scholar, 183.

102 David Erskine Baker later remembered her seeming agelessness throughout life: Biographia dramatica, or, a Companion to the Playhouse (London, 1782), I: 84. Cibber gave the first portrayal of the seventeen-year-old heroine in William Whitehead’s The School for Lovers as late as 1762, and continued to act the young Indiana in Steele’s Conscious Lovers until her last days on the stage. See also Nash, The Provoked Wife, 291–2.