A Passion for Opera: The Duchess and the Georgian Stage 2019

This summer’s exhibition explores a great passion of Lady Elizabeth Montagu, 3rd Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry (1743-1827) – the opera.

Elizabeth Montagu, great grand-daughter of John Churchill, the great Duke of Marlborough, was a true woman of the Enlightenment; a driver of creativity, curious, engaged, contemporary, feminist, philanthropic. Her passion for music reflected a world in vibrant transition – from revolution to democracy: classicism to romanticism: horse power to steam engine.

Her childhood had been dominated by Handel, a friend of her grandfather’s, but as a young woman she was quick to replace her harpsichord with the newly-invented piano, and, aged 70, she witnessed the tardy London première of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro as well as a whole string of Rossini’s latest successes.

Based around the life of music-loving Elizabeth Montagu and her family the exhibition will explore just what it was like to go to the opera in the Georgian period, meet the stars of the great opera stages of Europe and step into a singing lesson given by the Duchess’s own Italian bel canto singing master Domenico Corri.