2023: The Politics of Opera – Handel’s Opera Academies 1719–1737

International Scholarly Conference during the Handel Festival in Halle (Saale), 27 to 31 May 2023

The Handel Festival in Halle an der Saale in 2023 will be held under the motto “Opera: Dispute over Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee”. The citation from a poem in a London journal of the year 1725, which refers to the competition between the opera composers Giovanni Bononcini and George Frideric Handel, is intended to accentuate the fact that opera has always been the subject of disputes in which cultural-political and artistic interests have been linked. This is certainly true of the two opera academies for which Handel was head between 1719 and 1734, and which were followed by the rivalry between the “Opera of the Nobility” and Handel’s work at Covent Garden Theatre until 1737. At almost all levels of opera production, links to general political-cultural and social debates are evident: whether in the organization, patronage, and financing of the academies, whether in the audiences, whether in public criticism, whether in the choice of repertoire and libretti, whether in the singers, whether in the scenarios and stage designs, and whether in the compositions themselves.

The International Scholarly Conference at the Handel Festival on 30 and 31 May 2023 aims to explore the political dimensions of Handel’s academies, but also their premises and consequences, and to invite comparison with earlier and later instances of institutionalisation of opera as an art form. Last but not least, the aim is also to critically update historical findings in the context of the situation of opera houses today.

A wider-ranging introduction to the topic will be offered in the festive lecture by Arnold Jacobshagen on May 27. The event will start with the awarding of the 2023 International Handel Research Prize.


Please find the actual version of the programme here:


Participation in the festival lecture and the conference is free and open to all interested parties.


Große Nikolaistraße 5
06108 Halle
Tel. +49 (0)345 500 900


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hirschmann
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Dr. Annette Landgraf
Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Gesellschaft e. V.

Dr. Juliane Riepe
Stiftung Händel-Haus Halle

Organizers and Sponsors

Institut für Musik, Medien- und Sprechwissenschaften, Abteilung Musikwissenschaft, der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

In cooperation with the Stiftung Händel-Haus Halle

Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Gesellschaft e. V., Internationale Vereinigung

The conference is sponsored by the International Office der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg.

The International Handel Research Prize is awarded with the kind support of the Stiftung der Saalesparkasse.

Logo der Saalesparkasse