Handel's Messiah - episode 16

Sex, kidnapping & hostage-taking

Today’s episode of the advent calendar is not for those faint of heart as it contains both love-making scenes, a kidnapping and hostage-taking. On 5 December 1738 Theophilus Cibber sued William Sloper for having ‘molested, robbed and had sexual intercourse with the plaintiff’s wife’. Theophilus wanted 5,000 pounds in compensation. Because the case involved such a famous actor, the judge ruled that no minutes would be taken during the trial. However, one clerk thought that the case contained so many juicy and sensational details that it would be a pity if the rest of London missed out on them. So he took his own notes. The judge, however, could not really picture Theophilus Cibber as an innocent, deceived husband, so to begin with William Sloper only had to pay Theophilus Cibber 10 pounds for having run off with his wife.

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