The Fairies an Opera. The Words taken from Shakespear[!] &c.... [Full score]. John Christopher SMITH.

The Fairies an Opera. The Words taken from Shakespear[!] &c.... [Full score]

London: I. Walsh, [1755]. Folio. Attractively bound in period style in modern quarter brown calf with decorative blind-tooling, marbled boards, titling to spine gilt. 1f. (title), 1f. (table of contents and publisher's catalogue, "Musick Compos'd by M.r Handel"), [1] (blank), 2-61, [62] (blank), 63-92 pp. Engraved.

The title includes an excerpt from the spoken prologue to the work by David Garrick (1717-1779). The singers Mr. Beard, Sigra. Passerini, Sigr. Guadagni, Miss Poitier, Master Moore, Miss Young and Master Reinhold are named in printed captions ("Sung by...") within the score.

Very slightly browned; occasional minor signs of wear; tear to inner margin of p. 61 along edge of plate not affecting notation.

First Edition. BUC p. 958. RISM S3666.

As with many London publications of the period, The Fairies was first issued in three separate parts, in March-April 1755 (see Walsh II, 1374-6, recording no complete set of parts).

First performed at Drury Lane in London on February 3, 1755.

Smith was a pupil of Handel and was employed by him as a copyist.

"By 1725 [Smith] was having lessons from Handel; his early copies and arrangements of works by Handel demonstrate that his progress was rapid and that he was being instructed in composition as well as keyboard... Smith and David Garrick [1717-1779] presented two full-length all-sung Shakespearean operas in 1755 and 1756: The Fairies, based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Tempest... Dwarfed by Handel's greatness, Smith's music had little chance for real success. His strongest work retains the style of his mentor, while his attempts at more modern idioms are, with some exceptions, generally less effective. Much of his music is indeed worthy of revival, particularly the opera The Fairies and individual arias, choruses and keyboard selections, but Smith's reputation rests today more on his association with Handel than on his musical accomplishments." Barbara Small in Grove Music Online.

"It has been suggested that Garrick was responsible for the alterations to Shakespeare’s text, but he firmly denied it and his prologue suggests that Smith himself was the author. The music survives only in printed score [i.e., the present edition], including the overture, the arias, the final chorus and two symphonies, but omitting the recitatives, dances and other pieces... The plot follows Shakespeare’s, but the ‘rustics’ are excluded. The characters are Theseus (tenor) and his betrothed Hippolita (silent); Egeus (bass), his daughter Hermia (soprano), her lover Lysander (alto castrato [Guadagni]) and her betrothed Demetrius (tenor; he has no arias), and Helena (soprano), in love with Demetrius; and the king and queen of the fairies, Oberon (baritone) and Titania (soprano), with her servant and Puck (trebles)... Garrick’s (spoken) Prologue is a commentary on the audience’s ignorance and prejudice towards English composers." Michael Burden in Grove Music Online. Item #25507

Price: $3,000.00  other currencies

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