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Among the families for whom the matches are certain we find the Angersteins (now known as the source of the paintings used to establish the National Gallery); Admiral James Gambier, Baron Gambier and his wife Louisa; the Lascelles, Earls of Harewood; George Hibbert, owner of the Munden estate in Hertfordshire, which is still in the Holland-Hibbert family (now Viscounts Knutsford); the Milbankes, baronets; the Morants of Brockenhurst, Hampshire; and the Wards, Viscounts Dudley and Ward. The Erle-Drax family was represented at the opera by William Erle in 1791, and by John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Erle-Drax, the owner of Drax Hall, Barbados, in 1833. Clearly, profits from the slave economy continued to be a strong source for funding opera subscriptions during the last decade of the century.

The 1790s saw a burgeoning output of works critiquing slavery across many art forms—poetry, drama, fiction, non-fiction and painting, as well as cartoons and hymns. Grand opera was not among them, and even musical theatre or English opera was hardly touched. Inkle and Yarico, with music by George Colman the Younger and words by Samuel Arnold, is generally considered to be anti-slavery (it had its premiere in 1787), but the story has little relevance to the trade in Africans; rather, it is a tale of male chauvinism and heartlessness towards a Native American. To make it comic Colman and Arnold must add a happy ending.

The campaign to end the British slave trade and slave ownership can be said to have begun in earnest in 1787 with the founding of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Campaigners including Granville Sharp (a civil servant and a talented amateur musician) joined with the Quaker movement, Thomas Clarkson, William Wilberforce and others in efforts that eventually led to parliamentary success. The slave trade in British vessels was abolished, effective from 1 January 1808. The abolition of slavery in British territories had to wait until 1833, though its implementation was gradual and slave-owners were generously compensated from the public purse. The extent to which those funds supported opera in the 1830s remains to be uncovered. David Hunter is the author of ‘The Lives of George Frideric Handel’, published this month by Boydell and Brewer (ISBN: 9781783270613).

Obituaries Eleonora Enăchescu Romanian soprano, in Bucharest, on September 2, aged 63. Born in Cluj on 12 August 1952, she studied at the Bucharest Music Academy, graduating in 1976. Her debut was as Violetta in La traviata at the Magyar Opera Tărgu Mureș, and she thereafter took on a range of coloratura soprano roles at the National Opera in Bucharest: Lakmé, the Queen of the Night, Gilda and Lucia. Numerous singers studied with her at the National University of Music Bucharest,

where she taught for many years, becoming head of the singing department in 2006, including Marius Brenciu (winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2001), Cellia Costea, Valentina Naforniță (Cardiff winner in 2011), Şerban Vasile and Dorin Mara. Dan Iordăchescu Romanian baritone, in Bucharest, on August 30, aged 85. Born on 2 June 1930 in Vănju Mare, he wanted to be an actor


Opera, December 2015

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