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Gambarini, Elisabetta delocked

  • Winton Dean

(b London, Sept 7, 1731; d London, Feb 9, 1765). Soprano and composer of Italian descent. She was a daughter of Charles Gambarini, counsellor to the Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel. She took the second soprano part at the first performance of Handel’s Occasional Oratorio in 1746, and in the Covent Garden revival a year later assumed most of Duparc’s role as well. She created the Israelite Woman in Judas Maccabaeus in 1747, and probably sang Asenath in Joseph and his Brethren the same year. Her name appears in the performing scores of Samson and Messiah, but it is not certain when she sang in these works. Her voice seems to have been a mezzo with a regular compass of d′ to g″, extended occasionally down to b and up to a″. About 1748–50 she published some harpsichord pieces and songs in Italian and English, including a setting of ‘Honour, riches, marriage-blessing’ from The Tempest. Her op.2 has a frontispiece portrait engraved by Nathaniel Hone in 1748; it gives the date of her birth as above, but this may understate her age. She had a benefit at the Great Room, Dean Street, on 15 April 1761, when an ode of her composition was performed together with a cantata by the aged Geminiani; he may have been her teacher. In May 1764, as Mrs Chazal, she is said to have given a concert at which she appeared as organist and composer. According to Gerber’s Lexikon she was also a painter.

Works

6 Sets of Lessons, hpd (London, 1748)

Lessons for the Harpsichord, Intermix’d with Italian and English Songs, op.2 (London, 1748)

XII English & Italian Songs, fl, bc, op.3 (London, ?1750)

Bibliography

  • P. Mathiesen: ‘Elisabetta de Gambarini: the Vocal Option’, Continuo: the Magazine of Old Music, 16/2 (1992), 2–5