Handel As Arranger And Producer: Listening To Pasticci In Eighteenth-Century London
My dissertation investigates the experience of listening to previously-heard music assembled by composers through the exploration of a paradigmatic baroque genre, the operatic pasticcio. Focusing on productions by Georg Frideric Handel mounted between 1725 and 1739, my dissertation articulates three main issues: the role of material circulation of music in early eighteenth-century London; the notion of authorship in the context of the literary marketplace, copyright laws, and music appropriation in early eighteenth-century London; and the experience of listening to what a composer already listened to by borrowing music from other authors. Thus, I position the pasticcio in the context of non-music publishing, reading, and copying practices, and I argue that the genre was produced as a form of inscription of these listening and reading habits. By redefining the pasticcio as a form of listening inscription, my project reconsiders baroque opera’s aurality as paradigmatic of pre-Enlightenment reading and listening practices. Drawing on methodologies and concepts from the fields of material texts and performance studies, my research expands previous musicological literature—which focused mostly on textual genealogy—by considering the pasticcio as emblematic of the ‘ghosting’ nature of opera altogether which relies on the memory of previous performances and the issue of musical recurrence.