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Print - Riot at Covent Garden Theatre

Riot at Covent Garden Theatre

  • Object:

    Print

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (printed)

  • Date:

    1763 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved print

  • Credit Line:

    Harry R. Beard Collection, given by Isobel Beard

  • Museum number:

    S.50-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Theatre & Performance, Room 104, case 22, shelf A

Traditionally people could come for half price towards the end of an evening show, to see the second act or the short after-pieces that followed the main play. In March 1763 the management of Covent Garden theatre announced on the playbills that only full price tickets would be available. The response was an organised riot which destroyed the interior of the theatre and forced the reinstitution of the half price concession.

The opera being performed on this night was Artaxerxes, an English opera composed by Thomas Arne with a libretto adapted from the Italian poet Metastasio’s Artaserse. This is the only known attempt to adapt one of Metasatio’s opera seria into the English language. The singers in the print are dressed in conventional opera costume of the period, with the men wearing generically 'Eastern' rather than historically correct costume, while the female singer wears a version of fashionable 18th century dress.

Arne was more successful writing light opera, and his most famous and enduring work was setting the poem of Rule Britannia! to his music.

Physical description

Monochrome engraved print of a scene inside Covent Garden Theatre, showing members of the audience clambering on stage, over the orchestra pit, while actors on stage look confused.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (printed)

Date

1763 (printed)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved print

Marks and inscriptions

Riot at Covent Garden Theatre in 1763 in consequence of the Managers refusing / to admit half price in the Opera of Artaxerxes.

Dimensions

Height: 20.3 cm, Width: 26 cm

Descriptive line

Print, showing a riot at Covent Garden, 1763, 'in consequence of the Managers refusing to admit half-price in the Opera of Antaxerxes.' Members of the audience climbing on stage during a performance

Labels and date

Riot at Covent Garden Theatre
1763
The riot was a protest against the theatre management’s decision not to sell half-price tickets for the short after-pieces that followed the main performance. It destroyed the interior of the theatre and forced the reinstitution of the half-price concession – an early instance of the customer always being right.
Engraving
Harry R. Beard Collection, given by Isobel Beard
Museum no. S.50-2008 []

Materials

Ink; Paper

Techniques

Engraving

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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