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Goldoni, the Freemasons and the Mysteries: the female discovery trope in 18th century theatre

May 9, 2018, 6:30pm BST - 8:00pm
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry

The Kent Room
Freemasons' Hall, 60 Great Queen Street
London WC2B 5AZ
United Kingdom

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Join us for an entertaining talk when Professor Matthew Leigh introduces his research on elements of freemasonry in early 18th century European comic dramas. Classics and Ancient History Tutor at St Anne's College, Oxford, Matthew is particularly interested in the comedies of Carlo Goldoni (1707–93), whose play, A Servant of Two Masters had a successful recent West End and Broadway revival as One Man, Two Guv’nors, staring James Corden.

Goldoni's Le donne curiose (1753) is one of several French and Italian dramas responding to the extraordinary growth of freemasonry across Europe after the foundation of the London Grand Lodge in 1717. It demonstrates a close affinity with Pierre Clément's Les fri-maçons (Paris, 1737) and Francesco Griselini's I liberi muratori (Venice, 1754). This talk examines how Goldoni's play introduces key features of masonic practice and discourse and examines how both his and Griselini's work exploit the masons' identification of their order as a continuation of ancient mystery cult.

The discovery trope in 18th century drama may originate from the initiation in c.1712 of Elizabeth St. Leger (later Aldworth) in an Irish Lodge, after she was discovered observing a meeting.

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May 9, 2018, 9:00am BST

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