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‘Pots, privies and WCs; crapping1 at the opera in London before 1830’2

Abstract
Abstract

What was the interplay between plumbing and the routines of audience behaviour at London's eighteenth-century opera house? A simple question, perhaps, but it proves to be a subject with scarce evidence, and even scarcer commentary. This article sets out to document as far as possible the developments in plumbing in the London theatres, moving from the chamber pot to the privy to the installation of the first water-closets, addressing questions of the audience's general behaviour, the beginnings in London of a ‘listening’ audience, and the performance of music between the acts. It concludes that the bills were performed without intervals, and that in an evening that frequently ran to four hours in length, audience members moved around the auditorium, and came and went much as they pleased (to the pot, privy or WC), demonstrating that singers would have had to contend throughout their performances with a large quantity of low-level noise.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Marc Baer , Theatre and Disorder in Late Georgian London (Oxford, 1992)

Clive Bloom , Violent London: 2000 Years of Riots, Rebels, and Revolts (London, 2003)

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Cambridge Opera Journal
  • ISSN: 0954-5867
  • EISSN: 1474-0621
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-opera-journal
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