Nicola Porpora was the leading Italian teacher of singing in the 18th century and also composed over sixty operas. He trained the two legendary castrati Carlo Boschi, known as Farinelli, and Gaetano Majorano, known as Caffarelli, whose fame has lasted to the present day. In 1733 Porpora became artistic director at the Opera of the Nobility in London which made him a direct competitor of George Frideric Handel and his operatic company. In his operas, Porpora gave precedence to the virtuosity of the singers and in his second season he succeeded in bringing his former pupil, the famous Farinelli, to London.
In time to mark the beginning of the new year, the pastoral opera Polifemo was premiered on 1st January, 1735 at the King’s Theatre with the famous castrati Senesino (Francesco Bernardi) and Farinelli along with the soprano
Francesca Cuzzoni. The libretto was by Paolo Antonio. Polifemo combines the heroic tale of Odysseus with the metamorphosis of Acis and Galatea found in Ovid. The English royal family attended the premiere and the London Daily Post reported “the fullest house of the season.” Despite artistic successes the competition between the rival operatic companies and their efforts to engage the best singers drove them both to bankruptcy after four seasons. Nicola Porpora left London for Vienna, where he failed to find a position, and returned home to Naples.