May 06 , 2009


Love, Music and Malice at a Time of Handel


Harry Walsh is a young man on the make. He intends to become a famous singer, little knowing what dramas this will lead him through. He attaches himself to the celebrity composer, George Frederick Handel, maestro of the Italian opera, a favourite of royalty. But the aristocratic fashion for Handel is cooling. Opposing opera factions, one led by the scheming castrato, Senesino, knock the great man from his pinnacle. Meanwhile, rival impresarios are capturing new audiences with vulgar burlesques and extravagant pleasure gardens. As Harry negotiates his way through these shifts in popular entertainment his love-life proves equally complicated. He develops a passion for Handel’s shy young assistant and finds himself tied into a triangle of love that slowly and painfully falls apart. Documenting the launch of the great oratorio, the Messiah, in Dublin, and capturing the self-absorbed world of the singer, this is a light-hearted account of the rise and fall of the Italian opera in Hanoverian London. It is also a well-observed story of confused sexuality and an adolescent yearning for self-esteem and love.

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