Handel's Messiah - episode 15

Susannah Cibber - the woman with the beautiful voice and the horrible husband

She was the star of the first performance of Messiah in Dublin. In the years leading up to this Susannah Cibber had had a tough time.
It was nothing short of a sensation when the 17-year-old craftsman’s daughter, Susannah Cibber, quickly became one of the most fêted actresses and singers in London. She married actor and dramatist Theophilus Cibber, who soon turned out to be both malicious, violent, mendacious and manipulative. He frivolously spent his wife’s money. In return he gave her sexually transmitted diseases. When she tried to hide money from him, he knocked the door down to her dressing room at the theatre and stole all of her jewellery and dresses, which he then proceeded to sell. In 1738 things really spiralled out of control. Because if Theophilus could not have his wife’s money – then he could at least damage her good reputation with a sex scandal. So that’s what he did. And we will hear a lot more about that tomorrow!

Music: Dunedin Consort ‘Handel’s Original Dublin Version 1742’