The Bodleian Library has launched an appeal to raise £85,000 by 6 January 2009 in order to conserve a manuscript of the first opera written in English.
‘Erismena’ was written by Pietro Franceso Cavalli and was probably performed in England for the first time during the 1670s.
The Bodleian is trying to acquire the manuscript after it was sold from the Music faculty’s collection in 1797.
The aim to raise £85,000 for ‘Erismena’ has become part of the ‘Oxford Thinking’ campaign, which hopes to raise £1.25bn for the University as a whole.
Emma Kirkby, an Honorary Doctor of Music at Oxford University, said, “I am tremendously excited to hear that an entire Cavalli opera manuscript has survived – in an English translation, decades before Handel came to this country, and that there is a chance for the Bodleian Library to acquire this landmark of our musical history. I earnestly hope the means can be found to achieve this.”