We are so lucky in Dublin to have access to the world’s best music. Music in the churches can be sublime, and visiting companies perform French and Italian music in the city during the season. I notice that many of the wealthy, or aspiring families now engage music masters to teach their children to play the harpsichord or violin, to sing, and to appreciate the finer points of musical composition. I’m sure this can only have a civilizing effect, especially on the young men.
The new Music Hall in Fishamble Street has witnessed stunning events. Since its official opening last year this fine building hosts fashionable balls and assemblies. It has a wonderful vaulted roof which gives a great sound quality for musical evenings. It is decorated in the most elegant manner with fluted columns and pilasters and large mirrors to give extra light and to reflect the dancers. For concerts it holds about 600 people.
Mr Handel has staged some of his first nights here. They say he’s not as popular in London as he used to be, but he’s still a major star in Dublin. He is staying in Abbey Street near Liffey Street, and you can subscribe to his concerts there. The Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Devonshire, and his family come to the performances, so this attracts the fashionable audience too. At Easter this year his new oratorio, called The Messiah (catalogue record of the Messiah libretto), had its opening in the Music Hall. What a night that was! All the great and the good were there, they say that 700 people were squeezed in, and it was so crowded that you could not spot half the celebrities. I spotted George Faulkner the bookseller there, and I was hoping to get a glimpse of the Dean (Jonathan Swift), but he was obviously too ill to attend. The proceeds of the evening went to the Charitable Infirmary and Mercer’s Hospital, I believe they collected nearly £400.
I bought each of the librettos of these works at the time, they only cost a British sixpence each, so they won't break the bank. It’s good to be able to follow the action on the night, and to have the text as a souvenir afterwards, to be re-read quietly at home. As well as The Messiah, I have copies of (The Masque of Acis and Galatea libretto), (Esther libretto), and (L'Allegro libretto).