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Bonnie Elizabeth Fleming

(b Harrisburg, PA, March 2, 1921). American singing actress, producer, stage director, and teacher. Possessing a wide range of performing skills, she is known for undertaking challenging operatic roles such as Birdie and Regina in Mark Blitzstein’s Regina (1949, 1953, and 1958) and Lizzie in Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden (1965). She worked on Broadway, in light opera, on radio and television, and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Lewis attended Penn State University and was encouraged by its Glee Club director to audition for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she went on to study with Emilio de Gogorza. After her teacher suddenly left the Institute, Lewis auditioned and made her debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company at the age of 19 in the role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. A remarkably quick study, Lewis absorbed music and words in any language almost on the spot, a gift to which she attributes most of her early success. In ...

Article

Dominique-René de Lerma

revised by Karen M. Bryan

(b Meridian, NC, Feb 14, 1894; d Washington, DC, March 19, 1962). American opera director and teacher. She studied at the New England Conservatory and the Chicago Musical College. In 1927 she founded the Cardwell School of Music in Pittsburgh. She later established the Cardwell Dawson Choir, which won prizes at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago (1933–4) and the New York World’s Fair (1939–40). In 1941 she produced Aïda for the meeting in Pittsburgh of the National Association of Negro Musicians (of which she was then president). Her production led to the establishment of the National Negro Opera Company. The group’s official debut (in another performance of Aïda) took place at the Syrian Mosque in Pittsburgh on 30 October 1941. In 1942 the company moved from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC. Over the next 21 years it performed a repertory that, in addition to ...

Article

Charles Pitt

(b Hinsbourg, Jan 4, 1904; d Illkirch-Graffenstaden, Sept 7, 1984). French conductor, composer and opera administrator . He studied in Strasbourg with Erb and in Paris with Koechlin and Gédalge. He joined the Strasbourg Opera in 1933 as a répétiteur and stayed until he retired in 1972, being successively chorus master (1933–6), conductor from 1936, co-director (with Ernest Bour) from 1955 to 1960 and director (1960–72).

Adam sought to create a balanced repertory of French, German and Italian classics, together with contemporary works (such as Jean Martinon’s Hécube, 1956, which was specially commissioned) and revivals of rarely given masterpieces such as Les Troyens (1960) and Roussel’s Padmâvatî (1967). He gave the first French performances of Bizet’s Don Procopio (1958), Françaix’s L’apostrophe (1958), Dallapiccola’s Il prigioniero (1961), Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten (1965), Britten’s ...

Article

Max Loppert

[Bronson Reginald ]

(b Harpenden, June 4, 1952). English director . Born into a distinguished theatrical family (his father was the impresario Donald Albery) he first gained a reputation in the British regional and avant-garde theatre with distinctive modern reappraisals of the classics marked by a cool, highly refined sense of visual style. His first opera production was of The Turn of the Screw, at the 1983 Musica Nel Chiostro festival at Batignano, Italy; this led to work with Opera North – Tippett’s Midsummer Marriage (1985), La finta giardiniera (1989), and most notably the production of Les Troyens (begun in 1986) that was later shared between Opera North, Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera. In each of these, but most particularly in his triumphant production of the Berlioz epic, Albery’s invention of a modern visual and dramatic language that combined stillness, taut economy, intense feeling for states of psychological and poetic complexity, and deep musical responsiveness created a powerful impression of musico-dramatic revelation. For the ENO he produced Berlioz’s ...

Article

John Rosselli

(bc 1625–6; d Rome, 1713).French-Italian theatre builder and impresario. A French nobleman from Orléans, he became secretary in 1662 to Queen Christina of Sweden (resident in Rome after her abdication), in whose service he remained till her death in 1689; he managed her musical and theatrical entertainments, opera included. Under her patronage he built in 1669 the Teatro di Tordinona, the first notable opera house in Rome; he also built tennis courts and once ran a lottery combined with an exhibition of mirrors. When a new pope in 1676 forbade the reopening of the Tordinona, and Christina’s income from Sweden was held up by war, d’Alibert went to Turin; there he built and, in 1678, managed another opera house, the Teatro Ducale (later Regio). After the opening season he judged it to be doubtfully profitable and returned to Rome, where he kept gambling tables in his own house and entertained his customers with plays, music and puppet shows. After the demolition of the Tordinona in ...

Article

Robert Lamar Weaver

(bc1755; dc1829). Italian impresario and librettist. His family was from Vicenza. Though trained as a lawyer, he chose instead to become an actor like his parents, and joined first Pietro Rossi’s company in Venice and then, around 1777, the Compagnia Nazionale Toscana in Florence, directed by Giovanni Roffi. His first tragedy, Le glorie della religione di Malta, had success in many Italian theatres. He succeeded Roffi as impresario of the Teatro del Cocomero in 1785 and served until 1795, visiting Milan for a season in 1792.

Andolfati’s greatest importance lies in his cultivation of Florentine poets and composers for the Cocomero’s musical repertory. His contract there required him to translate French farces into Italian; in addition to the librettos listed below that are almost certainly his work, he probably wrote the otherwise anonymous librettos for most of the farse and some of the intermezzos given at the theatre during his tenure....

Article

Roland J. Vázquez

(de)

(b Portugal, 1836; d Madrid, May 21, 1886). Spanish impresario, actor and singer. He first became popular in comic roles at theTeatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid. In 1866 he formed his own company, the Bufos Madrileños, modelled on Offenbach’s Bouffes-Parisiens. It was an instant success. By 1870 he had begun a second company in Barcelona. In addition to operettas by Offenbach and Lecocq, Arderíus staged new works by Spanish composers, including F. A. Barbieri and P. J. E. Arrieta.The dance routines and brief costumes of the female chorus were indispensable to the appeal of the Bufos, and were among the features that incited critics to condemn the genre as frivolous and a hindrance to the development of serious opera in Spanish. By the beginning of 1873 the company’s popularity had ended, and Arderíus had become director at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. Thereafter he championed the cause of national opera, attempting, without success, to launch a Spanish opera series in ...

Article

Harold Rosenthal

(Walter)

(b Birmingham, Oct 19, 1913; d London, Jan 19, 1972). English administrator. He began his theatrical life in 1929 as an actor, but soon turned to stage management. After World War II he became general manager of the Old Vic and in 1951 was appointed general manager of Sadler’s Wells, and then administrative director. In ...

Article

Barry Millington

(Vincent Crocker )

(b Hertford, April 16, 1950). English director . After a period as staff director for the WNO (1979–84) and Covent Garden (1984–6), and an impressive début with Parsifal for the WNO in 1983, he was responsible for a series of strongly characterized productions both at home and abroad. His ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(Francis)

(b London, Sept 24, 1888; d London, July 9, 1981). English baritone and director. He studied at Oxford, making his début in 1919 with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, then sang with the O’Mara Opera Company and at the Old Vic. For Oxford University Opera Club (1925–31...