John Rich was a profoundly influential figure of the eighteenth-century London stage. As producer, manager, and performer, he transformed the urban entertainment market, creating genres and promotional methods still with us today. “The Stage’s Glory”: John Rich, 1692-1761, ed. Berta Joncus and Jeremy Barlow, gives the first comprehensive overview of Rich’s multifaceted career, appreciation of which has suffered from his performing identity as Lun, London’s most celebrated Harlequin. Far from the lightweight buffoon that this stereotype has suggested, Rich – the first producer of The Beggar’s Opera, the founder of Covent Garden, the dauntless backer of Handel, and the promoter of the principal dancers from the Parisian opera – is revealed as an agent of changes much more enduring than those of his younger contemporary, David Garrick.
Contributions by leading scholars from a range of disciplines – theatre, dance, music, art, and cultural history – provide detailed analyses of Rich’s productions and representations. These findings complement Robert D. Hume’s lead article, a study that radically alters our perception of Rich. Also included are a chronology of Rich’s life and work, a family tree, Rich’s Preface to The Rape of Proserpine (his only published writing), and the original members of his Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. Contributors include, alphabetically, Olive Baldwin; Jeremy Barlow; Donald Burrows; Al Coppola; Moira Goff; Robert D. Hume; David Hunter; Terry Jenkins; Berta Joncus; Matthew J. Kinservik; Ana MartÃ¬nez; Judith Milhous; Felicity Nussbaum; Marcus Risdell; Fiona Ritchie; Vanessa L. Rogers; Robin Simon; Jennifer Thorp; Linda J. Tomko; Thelma Wilson.
The Stage’s Glory is based on selected papers from the interdisciplinary conference ‘John Rich and the Eighteenth-Century London Stage: Commerce, Magic and Management’, held in January 2008 at the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, the site of Rich’s original theatre. The conference marked several anniversaries and legacies connected to his career: his mounting of the century’s theatrical sensation, The Beggar’s Opera (1728); the destruction of the theatre he built on this work’s proceeds, Covent Garden (1808), and the opening of the opera house built on the same site (1858).
This website publishes further papers from the conference (under ‘electronic proceedings’), plus abstracts of all papers, the full conference programme, details of the organisers and delegates, and visual material for the conference itself and the concluding concert.
About the Editors
Dr. Berta Joncus is a Senior Lecturer in Music at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a Research Associate of the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford.
Jeremy Barlow is author of The Enraged Musician: Hogarth’s Musical Imagery (Ashgate), A Dance through Time (Bodleian Library) and The Music of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (Oxford University Press).