Featuring opera, classical drama, pantomime and animal acts, this bill for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, is indicative of the range of variety performances put on in London theatres during the winter months. It also very much represents the taste of the Theatre Royal’s then-manager, Alfred Bunn (1796–1860), who was an advocate for opera and English opera in particular – hence the performance of John Barnet’s Farinelli and an English-language translation of Rossini’s William Tell advertised here.
The Theatre Royal was one of three ‘patent theatres’ in London at this time. This meant that it was granted monopoly position by the state to produce new spoken dramatic work. The variety aspects of this bill (the animal acts, the harlequinade) suggest something of the democratisation of mainstream theatres in Victorian England. Rather than being aimed at the upper-middle class as is common today, this seasonal performance is clearly meant to have something for everyone.
- Article by:
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