Melodious Rants and Passionate Cannon Fodder

My favorite uncontextualized academic quotation of the day, from Lucyle Hook’s introduction to the 1696 satire on female playwrights of the London stage, The Female Wits:

Mrs. Barry’s ability and her strength of voice in expressing the passion led to the full development of the rant, which was the test of the dramatic actress as the aria is the test of the opera singer. Ordinarily in a tragedy, there were two: one, the melodious expression of unattainable love in the first part of the play, and the second in the death scene, usually of raving madness. In The Royal Mischief, there are at least six major rants, each more powerful and surprising than the one preceding it.

Later, from a summary of this play (by Mrs. Manley):
Bassima, however, has been poisoned and is dying when Osman comes to her, urging the consummation of their passion then and there, before it is too late. Her gentle refusal to stray from virtue on her deathbed awakens him from his unplatonic spell, and he begs forgiveness but is interrupted in the middle of his contrite speech, led away, crammed alive into a cannon and shot off.

Two points:
  1. No, it doesn’t make any more sense if you hear the plot that comes before this (though apparently there is a lot of erotic writhing on beds for people one has never seen).
  2. I can’t wait to get a hold of this play and read it.

One Response so far.

  1. Restoration drama is so much fun, isn't it?

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