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date: 11 December 2019

Addison, Josephlocked

  • Donald R. Boomgaarden

Extract

(b Milston, Wilts., May 1, 1672; d Kensington, London, June 17, 1719). English librettist and writer on opera. He studied at Oxford, then held minor political offices and toured on the Continent (1699–1704), hearing performances in the most important operatic centres. He documented his impressions of opera in his Remarks upon Several Parts of Italy (London, 1705), commenting perceptively on the differences between the Italian, French and English poetic styles and criticizing the dramatic vacuity of Italian opera librettos. He later wrote a libretto on the story of Rosamond, mistress of Henry II, which was set by Thomas Clayton (1707) and was not successful, partially because of the composer's ineptitude. The libretto, while not Addison's best work, is an elegant attempt to create an opera on a British theme and shows that he had studied the dramatic and technical sides of opera. It was set successfully by T.A. Arne (...

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Musical Quarterly
The New Grove Dictionary of Opera