Since the eighteenth century, the one-to-one singing lesson has been the most common method of delivery. The scenario allows the teacher to familiarise and individualise the lesson to suit the needs of their student; however, it also facilitates speculation regarding what was actually taught and how creating mystery around vocal style and technique. More troubling is the heightened risk of gossip and rumour where the private space generates speculation about the student-teacher relationship. Venanzio Rauzzini (1745-1810), an Italian castrato living in England who became a highly sought-after vocal master, was particularly susceptible since his students tended to be women, whose moral character was under more scrutiny than their male counterparts. Even so in 1792, The Bath Chronicle oddly proclaimed the Italian castrato as ‘the father of a new style in English singing’. Branding Rauzzini as a founder of an English style was not an error, but indicative of deep-seeded anxieties about the Italian invasion on England’s musical culture. Scandalous Lessons allows teaching to take centre stage in the socio-historical narrative, providing unique insights into music culture in Georgian England. This book examines the layers of societal pressure an Italian vocal master needed to negotiate to bolster his credibility. Using a microhistory approach, this study will be the first to focus on the impact of teaching and will cast new light on issues of celebrity culture, gender and nationalism in Georgian England.

If you are interested in purchasing, Venanzio Rauzzini and the Birth of a New Style in English Singing: Scandalous Lessons, please visit:

The book launch was held online, 6pm 21 Feb 2022 at the RCS and the recording is now available to watch: