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Joseph Addison, writing in the Spectator ten days after the first night of Rinaldo, ridicules the elaborate scenes and machines which are part of Italian opera:

'An opera may be allowed to be extravagantly lavish in its decorations, as its only design is to gratify the senses. Common sense however requires that there should be nothing in the scenes and machines which may appear childish and absurd. How would the wits of King Charles's time have laughed, to have seen Nicolini exposed to a tempest in robes of ermine, and failing in an open boat upon a sea of paste-board? What a field of raillery would they have been led into, had they been entertained with painted dragons spitting wild-fire, enchanted chariots drawn by Flanders mares, and real cascades in artificial landscapes? A little skill in criticism would inform us that shadows and realities ought not to be mixed together in the same piece. I would recommend what I have here said to the directors, as well as to the admirers, of our modern opera.'

Spectator 6 March 1711


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