Handel in the Playhouse 52:04

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Sometimes venues can become as famous as the composers whose works they have housed for many memorable performances. Just one of those special music halls is the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. At the opening on 7 December in 1732 actor-manager John Rich, who had raised the capital to build the venue by commissioning The Beggar's Opera from John Gay, was carried by his actors in processional triumph for its opening production of William Congreve's The Way of the World. The theatre has undergone constant rebuilding and regeneration since then right up until today, and yet it still has the same magical atmosphere. George Frideric Handel's first season of operas began at this very place. In fact, many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there. John Rich, renowned for his spectacular productions, cooperated with Handel between 1734 and 1741 in order to stage these remarkable works. He suggested Handel use his small chorus and introduce dancing, as well as implementing the performance of organ concertos in the interval.

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