17 December 2013 / Events

Maggie Collins Lecture: Music in the Early 18th-Century London Fair Theatres

Presented by Dr Vanessa Rogers

By the beginning of the 18th century the London fairs were a vital part of the country’s economy and a hub for democratic theatrical and musical entertainment in the hot summer months.  This lecture identifies musical practices at the English fairs, including the operatic puppet shows and the commercial music-booths. In the musical satires and burlesques presented in the theatre booths authors experimented with mixing low comedy and high operatic culture – and if successful, breakout stage works and actor-singers might subsequently find a place on the legitimate London stage. This paper concludes with an examination of the representative musical content – and the eventual fates – of two particularly successful musical works premiered at a fair theatre booth during the heyday of Bartholomew Fair: William Chetwood’s The Generous Free-Mason (1730) and the anonymous Robin Hood (1730). Live musical examples will be provided.

Vanessa L. Rogers is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Rhodes College (USA). She is also Research Associate at the University of Oxford, where she is one of the Associate Editors of the international London Stage 1800-1900 database and the Principal Researcher for Ballad Operas Online: An Electronic Catalogue. Her primary areas of research include eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century English stage music, and she has published on Henry Fielding’s ballad operas and iconography and orchestral seating in eighteenth-century London theatres. Her current project is a book entitled Ballad Operas, Burlettas, and Burlesques: Musical Comedy in Eighteenth-Century Britain.


17 December 2013




Art Workers' Guild, 6 Queen's Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT