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Rush was active in London during the 1760s and 1770s, having previously travelled and studied in Italy, and he had enjoyed great success earlier in 1764 with The Royal Shepherd, based on a libretto adapted from Metastasio’s Il re pastore (the following year Mozart may well have heard Felice de Giardini’s setting of Il re pastore at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, but the score of this opera has not survived).
The plot of The capricious lovers is based on one of the most popular French opera libretti of the time, Favart’s Ninette à la Cour: a disguised prince attempts to prise an innocent country girl, Phoebe, from her country lover, and carries her off to court; he hopes to make a fine lady of her, but fails. Rush’s music is unostentatious but accomplished, and it captures effectively the playful and light-heartedly sentimental spirit of the English drama of the period.
The three-movement overture is the only part of The capricious lovers to have survived with complete orchestral parts. It is a brief but charming piece, its effervescent outer movements framing a beguilingly melancholy allegretto in D minor. It was popular as an isolated concert piece, and serves as a reminder that the symphony as a form evolved directly from the three-movement Italianate opera overture of the mid-eighteenth century.
from notes by Ian Page ï¿½ 2018