George Frideric Handel arrived in England towards the end of 1710, encouraged by a group of music lovers excited by the extraordinary success he had achieved with his opera Agrippina in Venice. At the beginning of the 18th century, London was a very prosperous city in need of talent to modernize and revitalize its theatrical performances, and the German musician, who was then at the service of the Elector of Hanover (who would soon be crowned King of Great Britain), was the ideal candidate.
For many years, Handel was the most acclaimed composer of Italian opera in London, premiering at a rate of one show a year, and managing all aspects related to production, from the orchestra, which became one of the best in Europe, to the singers, with whom he did not always have optimal relationships. In 1733, he had a notorious clash with one of the most famous castrati of the time, Senesino, who founded, with the support of a good portion of the aristocracy, the Opera of the Nobility, determined to rival the German composer. Two Italian opera companies were too much for a city where this genre had seriously declined during the previous decade, hence the considerable losses they both accumulated during consecutive seasons. In 1737, Senesino’s opera closed permanently. Handel, exhausted by excessive work and the constant upsets, became seriously ill.