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John Bull, Angelica Catalani and Middle-Class Taste at the 1820s British Musical Festival

  • Charles Edward McGuire (a1)
Abstract

This article examines the contentious relationship between the prima donna Angelica Catalani and the British musical festival in the 1820s. The inclusion of Catalani, the most famous soprano of her generation, at the great musical festivals in this decade, such as those of Birmingham, York, Derby and Manchester, among other places, was a sign of the aspects of spectacle festival producers thought necessary to capture the middle-class audience. At the time, contemporaries assumed this audience was increasing in number and importance. Catalani attempted to use her fame to dictate musical and aesthetic terms to festival committees, particularly by transposing arias within performances of Handel's Messiah, and interpolating Italian sacred music by Pietro Carlo Guglielmi and Pio Cianchettini into the same. The British musical press responded by invoking the figure John Bull to roundly condemn Catalani: the allegorical everyman, crying ‘cant’ and ‘humbug’ was used to portray the singer as a tasteless and ‘foreign’ other while at the same time forwarding the education of the middle-class audience into aspects of the nascent concept of ‘the composer's intentions’. The condemnation of Catalani was also an attempt to integrate the middle classes into the cultural life of Britain, while denigrating the purported taste of the British aristocracy, which made star turns such as Catalani's possible.

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I wish to thank Christina Fuhrmann for advice on the operatic world of 1820s London, Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss for their generous sharing of material regarding Angelica Catalani, and Leanne Langley for aid with journalists’ identities in the 1820s musical press. I would also like to thank my two anonymous readers for their excellent and substantive comments on an earlier version of this article.

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1 Pritchard, Brian, ‘The Musical Festival and the Choral Society in England in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: A Social History’ (PhD diss., University of Birmingham, 1968): 328 and following. Pritchard identified the phrase ‘new era’ as first coming from the article ‘The Provincial Meetings’ in The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review (hereafter QMMR), V/18 (1823): 276.

2 Pritchard, , ‘The Musical Festival’, 335.

3 Griffiths, David, ‘A Musical Place of the First Quality’: A History of Institutional Music-Making in York, c. 1550–1990 (York: York Settlement Trust, 1990): 8889. As Griffith indicates, 1823 was not the first time that a festival was held with concerts in York Minster. In 1791, Minster organist John Camidge organized a festival that included three morning concerts of sacred music there. For reasons that are not clear, the idea of a regular festival was not taken up until the 1820s. See 84–6.

4 Poriss, Hilary, Changing the Score: Arias, Prima Donnas, and the Authority of Performance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009): 139140.

5 Weber, William, ‘The Muddle of the Middle Classes’ in Nineteenth-Century Music, 3/2 (1979): 175185.

6 Cannadine, David, Class in Britain (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1998): 7172; Wahrman, Dror, Imagining the Middle Class: The Political Representation of Class in England, c. 1780-1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995): 218.

7 See, for instance, Spectator, ‘The Influence of Manners on Art’, QMMR, vol. VI/22 (1824): 177–83 at p. 183; ‘Grand Musical Festivals’, QMMR, vol. VI/22 (1824): 244–50 at 244–5 and ‘Grand Musical Festivals’, QMMR, vol. VI/24 (1824): 417–43 at 442–3.

8 Pippa Drummond notes that aristocratic patronage of early-nineteenth century festivals was key to their success, and that, at the time, ‘lists of patrons were completely dominated by titled individuals with the addition of a few members of parliament or high-ranking members of the clergy’. See Drummond, Pippa, The Provincial Music Festival in England, 1784–1914 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011): 157. While it might seem antithetical that the middle class would appreciate such hierarchical structures, the presence of the nobility at musical festivals provided the promise of being able to assume part of this aristocratic status to the growing middle-class audience, much in the way contemporary advertisements promoted their wares as bought and shops frequented by the aristocracy. See James, Lawrence, The Middle Class: A History (London: Little, Brown, 2006): 3 and 155–6.

9 See, for instance, the lists of the fancy ball attendees at the York festivals of 1825 and 1828, published in An Account of the Second Yorkshire Musical Festival Held on The 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th of September, 1825, in York Minster, By Permission, and with the Sanction, of The Very Reverend the Dean, And of the Venerable The Chapter of York, Patron, The King's Most Excellent Majesty, President, His Grace the Archbishop of York, To which is Added, An Account of the Grand Fancy Ball, and a Correct List of the Nobility and Gentry who Attended the Festival (York: Printed and Sold by John Wolstenholme, Minter Gates; Also by Messrs. Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, Paternoster-Row, London, 1825): 23–30 and An Account of the Third Yorkshire Musical Festival, Held on the 23d, 24th, 25th, and 26th of September, 1828, in York Minster, By Permission, and with the Sanction, of The Very Reverend the Dean, and of the Venerable the Chapter of York. Patron, The King's Own Excellent Majesty. President, His Grace the Lord Archbishop of York. To Which is Added, an Account of the Grand Fancy Ball, and a correct list of the Nobility and Gentry who Attended the Festival. By the Editor of the Yorkshire Gazette (York: Printed at the Gazette Office, Pavement; and Sold by H. Bellerby, Public Library, 13, Stonegate, c. 1828): 39–48. The 1825 list separates the nobility from the professional classes, but the 1828 one presents the list of ball attendees alphabetically.

10 Taylor, Miles, ‘Bull, John (supp. fl. 1712–)’, in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); online edition, ed. by Lawrence Goldman, May 2006, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/68195 (accessed 2 February 2014).

11 Hunt, Tamara L., Defining John Bull: Political Caricature and National Identity in Late Georgian England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003): 308. Interior quotation from Wahrman's Imagining the Middle Class, 218. The representation of the middle classes as enjoying ‘ … a monopoly [on] decency, piety, charity, responsibility, judgment, intelligence and sobriety, were no more than idealized, imaginative assertions, incapable (as usual) of empirical validation’ and others argued the opposite. See Cannadine, Class in Britain, esp. 72 and 74.

12 Taylor, Miles, ‘John Bull and the Iconography of Public Opinion in England, c. 1712–1929’ in Past and Present, 134 (1992): 101.

13 Hunt, , Defining John Bull, 144.

14 Hunt, , Defining John Bull, 147. Interior quotation from Wahrman's Imagining the Middle Class, 55–6.

15 See Colley, Linda, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992): 340.

16 Hunt, , Defining John Bull, 293.

17 Clio, ‘The Birmingham Festival’, in The Harmonicon, I/12 (1823): 183.

18 The most complete history of British musical festivals in the eighteenth century remains Brian Pritchard's doctoral thesis, ‘The Musical Festival and the Choral Society in England in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries’. Information about the Sons of the Clergy festival and the Three Choirs Festival can be found in Cox's, NicholasBridging the Gap: A History of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy over Three Hundred Years, 1655–1978 (Oxford: Beckett Publications, 1978) and Boden's, AnthonyThree Choirs: A History of the Festival (Stroud: Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd., 1992), respectively. The Sons of the Clergy festival existed for some decades in the seventeenth century without festival-style music. Cox states that the first festival that included ‘full music’ (presumably massed choral singing with accompaniment by organ and other instruments) took place in 1709 (Cox, Bridging the Gap, 49–50), though there are indications that earlier festivals may have had choral and organ music. The Three Choirs Festival (called ‘Meetings’ or ‘music meetings’ in the eighteenth century) was established by 1720, and may have begun as early as 1709 (Boden, Three Choirs, 1–10). These charity choral festivals were likely inspired by seventeenth-century celebrations of St Cecilia.

19 Boden, , Three Choirs, 2728. Messiah was performed at the 1757 festival meeting, but in a secular hall.

20 This festival was meant to be a centenary commemoration of the birth of Handel, because the organizers (like many contemporaries) believed the composer was born in 1684, not 1685.

21 Weber, William, The Rise of Musical Classics in Eighteenth-Century England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992): 242.

22 Drummond, , The Provincial Music Festival in England, 175176 and 23–6.

23 Drummond, , The Provincial Music Festival in England, 3536.

24 James, , The Middle Class, 168169.

25 Lysons, Daniel, History and the Progress of the Meeting of the Three Choirs of Gloucester, Worcester, and Hereford, and of the Charity Connected to It, To Which is Prefixed a View of the Condition of the Parochial Clergy of the Kingdom, From the Earliest Times (Gloucester: D. Walker, 1812) and Graham, George Farquhar, An Account of the First Edinburgh Musical Festival, Held between the 30th October and 5th November, 1815, to which is added an Essay, Containing Some General Observations on Music (Edinburgh: James Ballantyne, 1816).

26 John Crosse, An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, Held in September, 1823, in the Cathedral Church of York; For the Benefit of the York County Hospital, and the General Infirmaries at Leeds, Hull, and Sheffield: To Which is Prefixed, A Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Musical Festivals in Great Britain; With Biographical and Historical Notes (York: Printed and Sold by John Wolstenholme, Minster-Gates; also by Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster-Row; Hurst, Robinson, Cheapside and Waterloo Place; and Rodwell and Martin, New-Bond-Street, London, 1825).

27 QMMR, VIII/5 (1825): 133. Bacon, the editor and publisher of QMMR, also frequently wrote much of the material within it. See Leanne Langley's ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’ (PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1983), especially 216–81. Unless otherwise stated, all materials quoted within this paper from QMMR are assumed to be by Bacon.

28 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 3641.

29 Crosse notes that already by 1784, the Gloucester meeting of the Three Choirs Festival advertised the ‘Commemoration selection, which continued for several years to be performed in the country, under the name of the [sic] Westminster Abbey Music’. Crosse, An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 41. See also Drummond, The Provincial Music Festival in England, 13.

30 The trend is reminiscent of Lydia Goehr's idea of the ‘work-concept’, which both Rachel Cowgill and Jennifer Hall-Witt have identified as being in a nascent stage in 1820s London, through the introduction of Mozart's operas in middle-class circles. See Goehr's, LydiaThe Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992); Cowgill's ‘ “Wise Men from the East”: Mozart's Operas and their Advocates in Early Nineteenth-Century London’, in Music and British Culture, 1785–1914: Essays in Honour of Cyril Ehrlich, ed. Christina Bashford and Leanne Langley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000): 39–64; and Hall-Witt, Jennifer, Fashionable Acts: Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780-1880 (Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire Press, 2007), 911. Poriss (Changing the Score) problematizes this relationship for bel canto opera in London during the first half of the nineteenth century; but for the world of the English musical festival, 1830 seems to be a watershed date when whole works as well as newly commissioned ones were featured especially during the morning concerts, and the ‘miscellaneous’ nature of such sacred music and oratorio performances declined. See McGuire, Charles Edward, Elgar's Oratorios: The Creation of an Epic Narrative (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002): 1217 and Drummond, , The Provincial Music Festival in England, 215219. Other choral organizations, such as London's Sacred Harmonic Society (founded 1832), also became a force for performing large-scale works mostly complete. The Sacred Harmonic Society would later become the major part of the Crystal Palace's Handel Festival chorus starting in 1857.

31 Of course, presenting Messiah ‘inviolate’ in the third decade of the nineteenth century differs greatly from today's ideas of historically informed practice: the contemporary performance tradition included splitting the solos amongst all of the major singers present at the festival, arranged by seniority; the regular rearranging of certain movements, such as having the chorus ‘Since by Man Came Death’ sung by a quartet of soloists instead of the choir, as occurred at festival performances in Norwich in 1824, Chester in 1829, and in York in 1828 and 1835; its general performance by numbers of singers and instrumentalists far beyond Handel's own forces; and using re-arranged ‘modern’ accompaniments by Mozart and others to increase the instrumental effects. My thanks to Philip Olleson for pointing this out in an earlier version of this paper.

32 See McGuire, , Elgar's Oratorios, 2530; Anonymous, The York Musical Festival: A Dialogue (London: John Bohn, 1825); and Edward Hodges’ An Apology for Church Music and Musical Festivals in Answer to the Animadversions of The Standard and The Record (London: Rivingtons, 1834).

33 A typical example: ‘Handel's Messiah [sic], is, perhaps, without exception, the most popular of the various compositions of sacred music, and this accordingly was the high day …. The performance, like the composition, was sublime throughout…’ Anonymous, ‘Yorkshire Musical Festival’ in the Leeds Mercury, 17 September 1828. See also the general discussion in Howard E. Smither's ‘Messiah and Progress in Victorian England’, Early Music 13/3 (1985): 339–48.

34 Graham, , An Account of the First Edinburgh Musical Festival, 175195. The extract is taken from Burney's An Account of the Musical Performances in Westminster-Abbey and the Pantheon, May 26th, 27th, and 29th; and June the 3d and 5th, 1784, in Commemoration of Handel (London: Printed for the Benefit of the Musical Fund, 1785): 74–90.

35 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 275306.

36 Just as Bacon wrote much of the material within the QMMR, Ayrton either wrote or approved of the review items within The Harmonicon. As Langley notes, ‘… it is entirely reasonable to assume that all criticism published in the Harmonicon, whether originally composed by William Ayrton or not, was either carefully sanctioned by him or qualified. He prided himself on the journal's criticism and on his own public reputation as the principal conductor of the Harmonicon to such a degree that he would not have allowed serious divergences of opinion from his own stand without comment’. See ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, 368–9.

37 ‘Prefatory Address’ in The Harmonicon, I/1 (1823): 1. A similar sentiment may be seen in the introductory essay to the first volume of Bacon's QMMR (‘Plan of the Work’, QMMR, I/1 (1818): 1–10). Aside from these introductory statements that both magazines would help guide tastes of the middle classes, both journals featured glowing reports of concerts and other endeavours meant to promote high-quality music to the middle classes. See, for instance, the discussion of ‘The City Concerts’ (QMMR III/9, 65–70, particularly 65–6) and ‘Private Concerts’ (QMMR VII/27, 295–310, esp. 296). For more on the identification of these journals with a middle-class audience, see Langley's, LeanneThe Life and Death of the Harmonicon: An Analysis’, Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 22 (1989): 137-163, esp. 137 and 154-5 (which discusses Ayrton's launching of The Harmonicon's successor, The Musical Library to the ‘widest possible audience’) and ‘The English Musical Journal in the Early Nineteenth Century’, I/219–20.

38 Langley, , ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, 31. See also Fenner's, TheodoreOpera in London: Views of the Press, 1785-1830 (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1994).

39 Langley, ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, I/113.

40 Langley, ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, I/59 and 118–9.

41 Langley, ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, I/51 and 398.

42 As the most famous prima donna of her generation, Catalani was widely discussed in both the press and in numerous contemporary biographies, historical works and reminiscences, including those of George Hogarth (Memoirs of the Opera in Italy, France, Germany, and England (1838; 1851; volume II, 284–95)), Marie-Henri Beyle Stendhal (Life of Rossini, trans. and ed. by Richard N. Coe, second edition (London and New York: John Calder and Riverturn, 1985): 337), Louis Spohr (Louis Spohr's Autobiography (1865; reprint, New York: Da Capo, 1969): 27) and Richard Edgcumbe, Second Earl Mount Edgcumbe (Musical Reminiscences of an Old Amateur for Fifty Years, 1773–1823 (London: W. Clarke, 1824): especially 100). As recent studies of Catalani's career have shown, she was frequently pilloried as a ‘divine monster’, and aspects of her diva-like behaviour have frequently been exaggerated at the expense of her power as a musician. See the discussions of her in Poriss, Changing the Score (139–40, 150–56, and 180–82); Cowgill, Rachel, ‘ “Attitudes with a Shawl”: Performance, Femininity, and Spectatorship at the Italian Opera in Early Nineteenth-Century London’ in The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Cowgill and Poriss (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012): 217251; Cowgill, ‘Of Science and Nature: Mozart versus the Modern bel canto in Early Nineteenth-Century London’, in Mozart, Marcos Portugal e o Seu Tempo/and their Time, ed. David Cranmer (Lisbon: Centro de Estudos de Sociolgia e Estética Musical, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2010): 35–51; and Poriss, ‘Divas and Divos’, in the forthcoming Oxford History of Opera, ed. Helen Greenwald.

43 ‘The Provincial Meetings’, in QMMR, V/18 (1823): 280.

44 As might be expected for the most popular prima donna of the time, hiring Catalani was not easy. Indeed, because of protracted negotiations (as will be detailed below) and the Committee's hesitancy regarding some of her demands, early advertisements printed for the festival did not include Catalani, and instead had Violante Camporese as the principal soprano. See York Minster Archives, D 10/R/M 1823 A, iv. Crosse notes that Camporese initially accepted the offer but later declined due to illness; 1823 was also the year she retired from the London stage. See An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 151–2.

45 Mrs. Salmon was the next-highest paid performer, earning £210 for her services at the 1823 York festival. The salaries detailed in the York Musical Festival archives for the 1823 festival (York Minster Archives D 10/R/M 1823/B) closely match those for the 1828 York festival Drummond relates in The Provincial Musical Festival, 202. Catalani's importance to the Committee is further exemplified by the way its members reacted when a false report was printed in several London papers the Saturday morning before the festival was to commence, stating that Catalani would not sing at York (only at Birmingham). This report sent the Committee into a frenzy of activity: they printed posters for distribution around Yorkshire assuring the potential audience that Catalani would indeed be present, and sent counter-advertisements to many newspapers in England. See Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 152155 and 163–5.

46 This anecdote was frequently printed in the nineteenth century, including in Edgcumbe's Musical Reminiscences, 107 and George T. Ferris, Great Singers, first series (New York: Appleton and Company, 1893): 144.

47 Poriss, , Changing the Score, 151 and 181.

48 Poriss, , Changing the Score, 139156. Poriss is careful to note that Catalani never sang the part of Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia herself, and thus the fad was less about Catalani than modelling her general actions and style by other contemporary prima donnas.

49 See ‘Madame Catalani’ in QMMR III/11 (1821): 403.

50 Ferris, , Great Singers, 169. Closer to Catalani's own time was the assertion of George Hogarth, who remarked that ‘It is not wonderful that the public were captivated by Catalani. She was in the bloom of her surpassing beauty.... Her form was a model of symmetry, and her face, which beamed with intelligence and animation, was capable of every shade and variety of expression. The natural gifts of her mind were not unworthy of those of her person. She possessed energy and spirit, blended with great sensibility, sweetness of temper, and warm affections. These qualities gave an irresistible charm to her manners; and it was impossible to be in her society without being fascinated by her unaffected good humour, and exuberant yet perfectly delicate vivacity’. Hogarth, Memoirs of the Opera, II/284–5. For a series of images of Catalani which show her beauty to great advantage, see Cowgill's ‘ “Attitudes with a Shawl” ’, especially 231, 233–5, and 239–42.

51 This suspicion was expressed succinctly by the anonymous author of The York Musical Festival: A Dialogue when discussing the propriety of female opera singers at festivals: ‘The fact of the hiring of females to sing the praises and glory of God in our national establishment, who perform at those three grand national preservers of virtue, Covent Garden, Drury Lane, and the opera, as is a general practice on these occasions, is to my mind sufficient proof that no true devotion mingles with the sound of the harp and the organ’ (25).

52 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 7173 and 120; see also Lysons, , History and the Progress of the Meeting of the Three Choirs, 255256; Catalani returned 50 guineas of her fee at the 1811 festival.

53 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 67.

54 See ‘Madame Catalani’, QMMR III/11 (1821): 400-403; G.C., ‘Reminiscence of Catalani’, The Musical Times, 25/502 (1884): 686–91; and Ferris, Great Singers, 132–170, as well as the contemporary views mentioned above.

55 ‘Report of Music’ in London Magazine, Third Series, VIII (1823): 546. Langley notes that Bacon frequently wrote this article for the magazine. See ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, 204.

56 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 67.

57 1823 York Musical Festival Minute Book, York Minster Archives, D 10/R/M 1823/A, 4 July 1823.

58 1823 York Musical Festival Minute Book, York Minster Archives, D 10/R/M 1823/A, 25 August 1823. As the highest note in these compositions is a G in the second octave above middle C, it is unknown why she wished these transpositions. Compositions written specifically for her frequently at least touched on this note, as will be seen below.

59 Because of the contemporary festival programmes bequeathed by Sir George Smart to the British Library (Music Collections Case C.61.g and General Collections C.61.g) and other available archival documents (such as the archives of the Chester Musical Festivals, held at Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, ZCR 62), this table could be expanded both further back into the eighteenth century and forward into the nineteenth to show only tenors singing these pieces. In The Provincial Music Festival in England, Drummond notes that ‘Soloists, if sufficiently distinguished, could demand that they be allowed to sing a particular aria even though the composer had originally intended it for a completely different voice’ and that ‘there was a precedent for Catalani's appropriation of the first two vocal numbers of Messiah: in 1770 at the Gloucester festival Madame Mara had done exactly the same’ (186 and footnote 68). Aside from Catalani's performance of these selections at York in 1823, Cambridge and Newcastle in 1824 (not 1825, pace Drummond's statement on 185), and Mara's at Gloucester in 1770, I have not yet been able to locate any additional ones – and four such changes can hardly account for Drummond's claim that it was ‘commonly employed during the first half of the nineteenth century’.

60 1823 York Musical Festival Minute Book, York Minster Archives, D 10/R/M 1823/A, 4 September 1824 and 11 September 1823.

61 ‘Musical Festivals: York’ in The Harmonicon, I/11 (1823): 172.

62 ‘Grand Provincial Meetings’ in QMMR, V/20 (1823): 522–3.

63 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 276727.

64 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 300.

65 Anonymous, ‘Grand Provincial Meetings’ in QMMR, V/20 (1823): 535–6. Emphasis in the original.

66 Festivals that did not agree to Catalani's management, like the 1824 one at Norwich, consequently lost her services. Given Bacon's critical reaction to Catalani's performances in the 1823 festivals, and the fact that he was heavily involved in the origin and promotion of the first Norwich festival in 1824, it is not surprising that the Norwich Committee refused Catalani's offer. There is a long discussion on this point in ‘Grand Musical Festivals’, QMMR, VI/23 (1824): 420–21.

67 Catalani did not sing any transposed selections from Messiah at Bath because she was ill throughout this festival, and sang only a few of the pieces initially scheduled in advertisements and the printed programmes. Curiously, the opening sinfonia was not transposed at the Cambridge performance of Messiah. See ‘Grand Musical Festivals’, QMMR, VI/23 (1824): 445–8 and ‘Grand Musical Festivals’, QMMR, VI/22 (1824): 247. Catalani's speculation with these three festivals is akin to her stint as the director of the Théâtre Italien in Paris in the 1810s. For reasons that remain unclear, however, she did not attempt such management of musicians and receipts in succeeding years of festivals. See Drummond, , The Provincial Music Festival in England, 204.

68 ‘Derby Triennial Musical Festival’ in The Harmonicon, VI (1828): 222. Langley notes that Ayrton likely used local correspondents to report on provincial festivals. See Langley, ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, 363364.

69 Pio Cianchettini, ‘Domine Labia Mea Aperies” 51 stPsalm and Sacred Bravura “Gloria Patri” as Sung by Madame Catalani at the York & Birmingham Musical Festivals (Dublin: L Willis, c. 1823). A print of this composition, with the composer's autograph, is available in the British Library (shelfmark H.1653.uu.23). Publication of such pieces as musical souvenirs is yet another sign that festivals were spectacles in this decade, as well as an attempt by singers and publishers to use festival compositions in a similar way to opera excerpts.

70 The QMMR described Cianchettini's composition with what can only be understood as a veiled criticism of Catalani: ‘Mr. C. has had much opportunity of observing the powers of [Catalani], and he has the tact to give them their proper direction and employment with force and ability. This song is highly creditable to his taste: It opens with a cantabile movement of much beauty, and concludes with a bravura. The judicious observer will not fail to remark how little execution it contains, and how very easy the passages are, at the same time that they are melodious, shewy, and effective. The limitations are obvious, and it is no slight praise to the composer to have done so much with such materials’. ‘Domine Labia mea aperies, 51st psalm and sacred Bravura, Gloria Patri, as sung by Madame Catalani at the York and Birmingham Musical Festivals – composed expressly for the occasion, by Pio. Cianchettini’ in QMMR, VI/22 (1824): 270.

71 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 350351.

72 ‘Manchester Musical Festival’, in The Harmonicon, VI/11 (1828): 248.

73 ‘Grand Musical Festivals’ in QMMR, X/38 (1828): 168.

74 Poriss, , Changing the Score, 151.

75 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 67. Given the reputation of Rossini in England after the 1820s, this may seem a curious comment for Crosse to make. However, as Langley notes, English opinions had not coalesced about Rossini in the early part of the decade, and Rossini's La Gazza Ladra was compared favourably with Mozart's operas. See Langley's ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, 355 and 379.

76 Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 68; a similar sentiment is expressed in the review, ‘The Birmingham Festival’ in The Harmonicon, 1/12 (1823): 183.

77 ‘Birmingham Grand Musical Festival For the Benefit of Public Charities’, in The Harmonicon, I/11 (1823): 174.

78 1825 York Musical Festival Minute Book, York Minster Archives, D 10/R/M 1825/B, 17 January, 9 February, 4 April, 6 May, and 30 May 1825.

79 ‘Grand Musical Festivals’ in QMMR, VII/28 (1825): 415–16.

80 All the quotations in this paragraph are taken from An Account of the Second Yorkshire Musical Festival, 4.

81 The criticism itself may be a reference to the Old Price Riots of 1809, when the cost of tickets was raised at Covent Garden. The increase in price was partly to help cover the cost of rebuilding the theatre after the 1808 fire there. Catalani's high wages for singing there were widely blamed for the increase. See Poriss, , Changing the Score, 180, footnote 19. During the riots, a placard frequently used to protest stated ‘John Bull against John Kemble’ – that is, the everyman against the actor/manager of the theatre, John Philip Kemble. See Moody's, JaneIllegitimate Theatre in London, 1770–1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000): 62.

82 Nicholson, John, Lines on the Grand Musical Festival at York, September 1825 (Second Edition; Bradford: Printed for the Author by G. & E. Nicholson, 1825), 9. John Braham, a regular on the provincial festival circuit and considered to be the senior tenor at the York festival, would normally have sung the opening two vocal selections of Handel's Messiah at the 1825 festival. Vaughan sang them because of a promise made to him by the Archbishop of York for forgoing the opportunity in favour of Catalani at the 1823 York festival (Braham was not engaged to sing that year). See the Account of the Second Yorkshire Festival, 13. The identification of Braham as a ‘friend’ to Albion stems not from his lineage (while born in London, his parents were from the Continent), but his reputation for singing patriotic songs, including his own ‘The Death of Nelson’ (1811).

83 Anonymous, The York Musical Festival of 1828: A Comedy, in Five Acts (London: Printed for Hirst, Chance, & Co., 1828). The play includes a long comedic interlude satirizing a festival committee meeting (beginning on 63), which neatly finesses the implicit issue of Handel's British identification in Thomas's poem (as a ‘native poet’). During the meeting, there is a discussion of a last-minute substitution in the programme: a chorus by Haydn instead of one by Handel. One of the Committee's more venerable members (named ‘Mr. Oldtimes’) calls on his colleagues to remember Handel's ‘patriotism’: ‘Dear me, dear me! what a fuss about nothing: but I am against Haydn, Mr. Chairman, for I hates [sic] all new things – Handel was a loyal man, Sir, and loved his king, and George the third (bless his memory!) always loved Handel: so Handel's the man for my money; I always says [sic] that Handel was the first of men’. Haydn, the ‘new thing’ had of course been dead for nearly two decades at the time this fictional festival took place.

84 Anonymous, The York Musical Festival of 1828, 56–9. Lemon's character questions the morality of prima donnas – especially ones who spent a certain amount of time abroad – a common trope in festival criticism from the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The character seems to be based on objections of the state of the singer Mary Ann Paton's marriage to Lord William Pitt Lennox, as it was rumoured she was having an affair with the tenor Joseph Wood in contemporary news accounts (such as ‘Diary for the Month of September’, in London Magazine, VIII (1828): 403). Paton and Wood would eventually marry in 1831, after her divorce from Lennox. The question of Paton's character, and whether or not it was proper for her to sing at the 1828 festival was public enough that the Archbishop of York resigned from the 1828 festival's Committee. The assumption that opera singers were devoid of morals was a strong one, as is clear from the censure placed on them by anonymous author of The York Musical Festival: A Dialogue, 25.

85 This play is not the only possible satirical representation of Catalani. Poriss notes that Catalani may have been one of the models for the prima donna Giulia in ‘Memoir of a Song’ (Fraser's Magazine, 39 (1849): 17–28). If so, the anonymous author of the short story criticizes her both because her singing ‘was like a cat's “squall” ’ and – like the criticism of Catalani's festival behaviour – because she throws over ‘artistic’ music (the insertion aria at the centre of the story) for ‘trumpery twaddle’ such as ‘Rode's Variations’ (Poriss, Changing the Score, 180–81).

86 Clio, ‘The Birmingham Festival’, in The Harmonicon, I/12 (1823): 183. Emphasis from the original. In ‘The English Music Journal in the Nineteenth Century’, Langley posits that ‘Clio’ might have been the Times critic Thomas Mason Alsager (285, footnote 26), John Parry or Edward Taylor (382, footnote 182). Regardless of his identity, Clio's letter agrees fully with the review of Catalani's singing presented earlier in that issue of The Harmonicon, and substantially fleshes out details of the performance.

87 Hunt, , Defining John Bull, 167.

88 Hunt, , Defining John Bull, 165.

89 In the 1820s, encores were both possible and popular. At the 1823 York festival, Catalani's performance of a set of vocal variations on ‘Robin Adair’ by Henry Bishop was encored (Crosse, , An Account of the Grand Musical Festival, 370371), and the programme for the 1828 York festival specifically asked that encores not be requested on account of the length of the evening concerts. This, according to the poet of The Yorkshire Musical Festival, A Sketch, by ME, was not honoured (York: Thomas Marsh, 1828): 21–2. The annotated festival programmes of Sir George Smart frequently note the presence of encores in programmes from the 1820s. For instance, at the 1824 Norwich festival, one of the evening concerts featured four encores, another included six, and one of the morning sacred concerts even included an encore of the ‘He Gave them Hailstones’ chorus from Handel's Israel in Egypt (BL C.61 g 16L [ms] Norwich Festival (1824)).

90 ‘The Birmingham Festival’, 182. Emphasis in the original.

91 See Hall-Witt, , Fashionable Acts, 5052, Poriss, Changing the Score and Poriss, ‘A Madwoman's Choice: Aria Substitution in Lucia di Lammermoor’ in the Cambridge Opera Journal, 13/1 (2001): 1–28.

92 1828 York Musical Festival Minute Book, York Minster Archives, D 10/R/M 1828 B, 20 February 1828 and 2 April 1828.

93 ‘Grand Musical Festivals’ in QMMR, X/38 (1828): 154.

94 ‘Grand Musical Festivals’ in QMMR, X/38 (1828), 150-1. Emphasis in the original.

95 ‘Grand Musical Festivals’, in QMMR, X/38 (1828): 151. Emphasis in the original. ‘Extracts from the Diary of a Dilettante’, in The Harmonicon VI/11 (1828): 256, also reports this amount. As they had done with Catalani's behaviour at the festival in 1823, the York Committee made sure that the interested musical public knew that they had refused Sontag's salary request: aside from the discussions within the QMMR and The Harmonicon, a long description appeared in the official 1828 history of the York Festival, An Account of the Second Yorkshire Musical Festival and An Account of the Third Yorkshire Musical Festival, 16.

96 ‘Grand Musical Festivals’ in QMMR, IX/34 (1827): 186–7.

97 An Account of the Third Yorkshire Musical Festival, 30, 37 and 27, respectively.

98 An Account of the Third Yorkshire Musical Festival, 28.

99 An Account of the Third Yorkshire Musical Festival, 37.

100 An Account of the Third Yorkshire Musical Festival, 5.

101 An Account of the Third Yorkshire Musical Festival, 5.

102 An Account of the Third Yorkshire Musical Festival, 9. The internal quotation is from Richard Mackenzie Bacon's Account of the Norwich Musical Festival, of 1824 (Norwich, 1824).

103 For instance, the total amount paid to the six soloists at the 1885 Chester Musical Festival was £792 (Cheshire Records Office: Dr JC Bridge Collection, CR62/1/79: ‘Chester Festival Chorus 1885–1891’, 38–9). Catalani's salary at York in 1823 alone was £630; the other singers brought the total to £1638 (York Minster Archives, D/10/R/M 1823/B: Yorkshire Musical Festival (Payments to Performers)).

104 Both phrases are purposefully presented in scare quotes, given that the remainder of the nineteenth century continued to see performances of Handel's Messiah performed via numerous orchestrations and huge forces. See Smither, ‘Messiah and Victorian Progress’, Scholes, Percy, The Mirror of Music, 1844–1944: A Century of Musical Life in Britain (London: Novello, 1947): I/178–81 and Musgrave, Michael, The Musical Life of the Crystal Palace (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995): 2759.

I wish to thank Christina Fuhrmann for advice on the operatic world of 1820s London, Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss for their generous sharing of material regarding Angelica Catalani, and Leanne Langley for aid with journalists’ identities in the 1820s musical press. I would also like to thank my two anonymous readers for their excellent and substantive comments on an earlier version of this article.

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Nineteenth-Century Music Review
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  • EISSN: 2044-8414
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