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The Spectator
Number V
March 6, 1711

[Rare Periodical]

Italian opera in London reflected the dubious craze for grand theatrical spectacle, often at the risk of subsuming the drama of the piece being performed. Handel's first great London success, Rinaldo, was no stranger to the elements of spectacle. Joseph Addision, the editor of the newly founded Spectator, offered a pithy, and yet humorous report not only of the theatrical event, but also those before and after the performances:

... As I was waslking in the Streets about a Fortnight ago, I saw an ordinary Fellow carrying a Cage full of little Birds upon his Shoulder; and, as I was wondering with my self what Use he would put them to, he was met very luckily by an Acquaintance, who had the same Curiosity. Upon his asking him what he had upon his Shoulder, he told him, that he had been buying Sparrows for the Opera. Sparrows for the Opera, says his Friend, licking his Lips, what,? are they to be roasted? No, no, says the other, they are to enter towards the end of the first Act, and to fly about the Stage."

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