Arsinoe Queen of Cyprus

The Daily Courant announced the presentation of ARSINOE QUEEN OF CYPRUS [libretto by Peter Anthony Motteux; music by Thomas Clayton] at the Drury Lane Theatre, on Tuesday, January 16, 1705.

The Courant did not list the cast, but the first published edition bore the following title page: Arsinoe, Queen of Cyprus. An Opera, After the Italian Manner. As it is Perform'd at the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane, By Her Majesty's Servants (London: Tonson, 1705). The Names of the Actors: Ormondo-Hughs; Feraspe-Leveridge; Delbo-Mr Cook or Mr Good; Arsinoe-Mrs Tofts; Dorisbe- Mrs Cross; Nerina-Mrs Lyndsey.

Tonson's advertisement for the publication announced: A New Opera never perform'd before ... After the Italian manner, All Sung, being set to Musick by Master Clayton. With several Entertainments of Danceing by Monsieur l'Abbee, Monsieur Du Ruel, Monsieur Cherrier, Mrs Elford, Mrs du Ruel, Mrs Moss, and others. And the famous Signiora Franeisca Margaretta de l'Epine will, before the Beginning and after the Ending of the Opera, perform several Entertainments of Singing in Italian and English. No Person to be admitted into the Boxes or Pitt but by the Subscribers Tickets, to be deliver'd at Mrs White's Chocolate-house. The Boxes on the Stage and the Galleries, are for the Benefit of the Actors.

The Preface to the publication explained: The Design of this Entertainment being to introduce the Italian manner of Musick on the English Stage, which has not been before attempted; I was oblig'd to have an Italian Opera translated: In which the Words, however mean in several Places, suited much better with that manner of Musick, than others more Poetical would do. The Stile of this Musick is to express the Passions, which is the Soul of Musick: And though the Voices are not equal to the Italian, yet I have engag'd the Best that were to be found in England; and I have not been wanting, to the utmost of my Diligence, in the instructing of them. The Musick being Recitative, may not, at first, meet with that general Acceptation, as is to be hop'd for from the Audience's being better acquainted with it: But if this Attempt shall, by pleasing the Nobility and Gentry, be a Means of bringing this manner of Musick to be us'd in my Native Country, I shall think all my Study and Pains very well employ'd. Thomas Clayton.

Thomas Clayton |  VIIA: Henry Purcell and his Contemporaries