Since he was a very young man, Handel had been obsessed with Italian opera; indeed he travelled on his own to Italy where he was able to refine his setting of Italian texts. During the three years he spent there he graduated from being a brilliant keyboard player nicknamed Il Sassone (the Saxon) to being lauded as Il caro Sassone, composer of the latest hit opera, Agrippina.
In late 1710, aged 25, Handel travelled to England and settled permanently in London. Over the next 20 years opera would be his bread and butter. Opera was all the rage and Handel was phenomenally successful, becoming wealthy in the process.
1730 had been a triumphant year, but all changed in 1731, first with the death of his mother, the only woman he was ever close to. Opera had fallen out of fashion and consequently Handel made considerable losses. Operas have always been very expensive to stage. His ‘friends’ of 1730 disappeared, and we now find him living as a recluse, although sometimes he would be seen ‘lumbering around’ in Hyde Park.
Click here for information on ‘The birth of the English Oratorio’.