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1732: The original Covent Garden Theatre Royal opened: In 1728 actor and manager at Lincoln's Inn Fields John Rich commissioned The Beggar's Opera and the success of the venture provided the capital for the first Theatre Royal at Covent Garden, designed by Edward Shepherd.

On the opening night Rich's actors carried him there in triumph for a performance of Congreve's The Way of the World. For the first 100 years or so of its history the theatre was primarily a playhouse. Letters Patent granted by Charles II had given Covent Garden and Drury Lane almost sole rights to spoken drama in the capital.

During Rich's management he developed pantomime as an art form and the tradition of Christmas pantomimes at Covent Garden survived until the 1930s. The first serious musical works to be heard there were the operas of Handel, many of which had their first London performances.

He bequeathed his organ to John Rich and it was placed in a prominent position on the stage. But it was among many valuable items lost in a fire in 1808. The theatre became The Royal Opera House in 1892.

Also on This Day: 1431: Henry VI of England wascrowned King of France in Paris; 1783: William Pitt the Younger became England's Prime Minister; 1941: The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; 1945: Microwave ovens were patented;1985: Death of the poet Robert Graves.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 7, 2002
Words:230
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