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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter shows how a unique canonic repertory of opera seria evolved in Berlin’s Italian Court Opera under the leadership of King Friedrich II of Prussia (Frederick the Great). Thirty-one works by Johann Adolf Hasse and Carl Heinrich Graun were produced from 1740 to 1756 and then revived during the subsequent three decades, until the king’s death in 1786. Moreover, four new operas written in the antique style were produced by the theater’s director, Johann Friedrich Agricola. Even though the economic effects of the Seven Years War played a role in limiting the production of new operas, the repertory evolved in large part due to the king’s deep commitment to the old works and to his authority in selecting each year’s repertory and casting the singers. This chapter is paired with Katherine Hambridge’s “Catching up and getting ahead: The opera house as temple of art in Berlin c. 1800.”

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