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This article focuses on one of the many grievances put forward by the critics and satirists of Italian opera in early 18th-century England : the introduction of the Italian language in the London theatres. Though many of these critics and men of letters did acknoledge that Italian was, to some extent, more musical than English, they highly resented the use of this foreign tongue on the London stage. In their opinion, operatic performances in Italian were absurd and anti-patriotic ; they were the consequences of the degenerate taste of the English nobility, who found it fashionable to listen to words they could not understand. However, it would seem that such a judgment about the audience's lack of knowledge of Italian needs to be qualified. Some Italian opera librettists working in London also had teaching activities and published Italian handbooks and grammars that were bought and studied by those members of the aristocratic public who were eager to relish the texts set to music.

Xavier Cervantes
Université de Toulouse II
"Unintelligible sing-song" : L'intrusion de la langue italienne sur la scène lyrique anglaise dans les premières décennies du XVIIIème siècle