Handel began to compose operas in Hamburg, where he spent the years 1703–06; his principal influences were Johann Mattheson and Reinhard Keiser. At that time, German opera as a genre was still not clearly defined; in Hamburg the term Singspiel ("song-play") rather than opera described music dramas that combined elements of French and Italian opera, often with passages of spoken German dialogue. The music was, in the words of historian Donald Jay Grout, "tinged with the serious, heavy formality of Lutheran Germany". The first of Handel's early works in the German style was Almira, a considerable success when it was premiered on 8 January 1705. Over the next three years Handel composed three more operas in the German style, but all of these are now lost. However, fragments of the music from these works have been identified in later operas.
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