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Article

H. Wiley Hitchcock

revised by Tim Carter

[‘La Romanina’]

(fl 1582–1620). Italian soprano, lutenist and dancer, wife of Antonio Archilei . Probably a pupil of her husband, whom she married most likely in 1582, she was a protégée of Emilio de' Cavalieri in Rome and was with him in the service of Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici before he became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1587. She participated in the festivities for the wedding of Eleonora de' Medici and Vincenzo Gonzaga in 1584. When Cavalieri was made artistic superintendent at the Medici court in 1588, she went with her husband to Florence, where she became one of the most famous singers of her time. She apparently remained in the service of the Medici until her death.

She had a major part, as soprano soloist and lutenist, in the spectacular ‘intermedii et concerti’ for the comedy La pellegrina during the festivities for the marriage of Ferdinando de' Medici and Christine of Lorraine in ...

Article

Irene Alm

[Giambattista; ‘il Tasquino’]

( fl 1636–57). Italian choreographer, dancer, stage designer and impresario . He was involved with Venetian opera from its inception. Cited as ‘Veneziano Ballarino celebre’ in the libretto for Francesco Manelli’s L’Andromeda (1637), he continued to provide choreography for operas at Venice for the next seven years. Beginning in 1645, his affiliation with the travelling Febiarmonici introduced Venetian opera to other Italian cities. They produced Francesco Sacrati’s La finta pazza in Florence in 1645 and Cavalli’s La Deidamia (first performed Venice, 1644) there in 1650. In December 1652 Balbi and the Febiarmonici produced Veremonda l’Amazzone d’Aragona (?Cavalli) in Naples. Veremonda and La finta pazza, presented earlier that year, served to introduce Neapolitan audiences to the innovations of the Venetian stage machinery and dance. During Carnival 1653 Balbi created the set designs and choreography for the anonymous Le magie amorose and for Provenzale’s Il Ciro in Naples.

Balbi also played an important role in the introduction of Venetian opera to northern Europe. While in Florence in ...

Article

Maureen Needham

(b Paris, Oct 30, 1631; d Paris, early Feb 1705). French dancer, choreographer, composer and conductor. He has been wrongly identified with Charles-Louis Beauchamps. Called the father of all ballet-masters, he codified the five positions of feet and arms, and developed a rational system of dance notation which is now called after Raoul-Auger Feuillet, who published it (in his Chorégraphie, ou L’art de décrire la dance) in 1700.

Beauchamps was Louis XIV’s personal dancing-master and favourite partner in ballets de cour in the 1650s and 60s. Throughout his career he collaborated with Lully, whom he first met as comic dancer in, and later as composer of, ballets de cour. Beauchamps choreographed intermèdes and dances for Molière’s comédies-ballets, beginning with Les fâcheux (1661), for which he also composed the music and conducted the orchestra. He choreographed entrées for Le mariage forcé (1664), Le bourgeois gentilhomme...

Article

Margaret M. McGowan

(fl early 17th century). French dancer, violinist and composer. The only known fact in his personal life is that he was married on 27 May 1637 to Antoinette Guibourg, the widow of the painter and costume designer Daniel Rabel. Belleville was in charge of organizing court entertainments for Louis XIII from c1616 to c1637 and contributed to nearly all ballets performed at court during this time. As a dancer he rivalled Louis Constantin and the celebrated dancing-master Jacques Cordier. He wrote all the dance tunes and some of the airs for Etienne Durand's Ballet de la délivrance de Renaud (1617) and for the Ballet de Tancrède (1619). His virtues as a musician were extolled by Michel de Marolles (Mémoires, Amsterdam edn, 1755, iii, pp.207–8), and together with the singer Marais it was said of him by contemporaries that ‘[ils] n'ont besoing que d'estre nommez pour avoir des louanges’. An allemande and a four-part instrumental piece, ...

Article

(b ?Paris, ?1676; d Paris, Aug 6, 1739). French dancer, choreographer, and academician. His dancing-master father, Antoine (d 20 July 1740), married Catherine Beauchamps, the sister of dancing-master Pierre Beauchamps, with whom Michel reputedly studied. Michel was also connected to [J.-B. Poquelin] Molière’s family through his wife, Marie-Nicole-Thérèse Dugast (married 7 May 1701). Michel danced at the Paris Opéra from 1690; from 1728 until his death he was a ‘compositeur des ballets’. On occasion, he choreographed or performed in ballets for the French court. Among other works, he choreographed a Ballet de la Paix (1713) for the Jesuit Collège Louis le Grand. His famous pupils included Marie-Anne Cupis de Camargo, Marie Sallé, and, allegedly, Franz Hilverding van Wewen. Noverre claims that Blondi did not teach his students to read dance notation, but as a member of the Académie Royale de Danse, Blondi signed a resolution condemning Pierre Rameau’s ...

Article

Julia Sutton

(b probably Sermoneta, c1527–35; d after 1605). Italian dancing-master. He was the author of two large manuals of vital significance as sources of dance steps, types and music of the second half of the 16th century. Caroso's works include over 100 different dances by himself and others, as well as valuable rules for basic step vocabulary and etiquette. The ballettos, which form the major part of his repertory, clearly descend from the balli of 15th-century Italy, being similarly multi-partite and individually choreographed, with specially composed or adapted music. The fact that Nobiltà di dame (1600) was reprinted under a different title as late as 1630 supports other evidence that Caroso's style may have continued to hold good for Italian dance in the first third of the 17th century.

Caroso's volumes include a few simple group figure dances such as the contrapasso, but most are more elaborate social dances for a skilled amateur couple, for example the ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(?bap. Dorking, March 6, 1682; d London, April 4, 1737). English singer, actress and dancer. Miss Cross was ‘the girl’ in Purcell’s theatre company in the last few months of his life, when he wrote several songs for her, including ‘I attempt from love’s sickness’ (in The Indian Queen), ‘Man is for the woman made’ (The Mock Marriage) and ‘From rosy bowers’ (The Comical History of Don Quixote, part iii). Daniel Purcell and Jeremiah Clarke later wrote for her. A pert and lively personality is indicated by the prologues and epilogues she delivered and her acting roles such as Hoyden in John Vanbrugh’s The Relapse. In 1698 she apparently received 500 guineas for sexual services to Peter the Great during his London visit, and later went to France with ‘a certain baronet’. She returned to sing in the first English opera in the Italian style, ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

[Moll]

(b c1650; d London, bur. Feb 24, 1708). English soprano, dancer and actress. From her first appearance on the stage as a girl in the early 1660s Mary Davis was particularly praised, by Pepys and others, for her dancing. Late in 1667 her singing of ‘My lodging it is on the cold ground’ so attracted Charles II that it ‘Rais’d her from her Bed on the Cold Ground, to a Bed Royal’. As his mistress she sang and danced at court, appearing in John Crowne’s masque Calisto in 1675 and singing Venus in Blow’s Venus and Adonis, in which her daughter by the king, Lady Mary Tudor, was Cupid. In 1686 she married the French-born composer and woodwind player James Paisible.

BDA DNB (J. Knight) LS J. Downes: Roscius Anglicanus (London, 1708); ed. J. Milhous and R.D. Hume (London, 1987) J.H. Wilson: All the King’s Ladies...

Article

Lynn Matluck Brooks

( fl c 1637–1642). Spanish dancer . His Discursos sobre el arte del dançado (Seville, 1642) reveals that he was a citizen and native of Seville who went to Madrid to study with Antonio de Almenda, dancing master to Felipe IV. In about 1637 he returned to Seville, where he appears to have been regarded nearly as a newcomer, based on his own reports of his arrival and reactions to his dancing and the ‘doctrine’ it demonstrated. By the time he was writing his treatise he was no youngster; he regularly referred to and praised the younger generation of dancers. His treatise, in which he claimed to be expounding the doctrine of his teacher, includes a rumination on the history and values of dancing, descriptions of 27 dance steps as well as explanations of posture and stance, indications of ideals in body types and performance aesthetics, and lists of expert dancers, esteemed dancing masters and their most accomplished disciples, primarily in Madrid and Seville. There are no dance notations or musical examples, but there are brief choreographic descriptions for the pavan and galliard, and a lengthier description for the ...

Article

Maureen Needham Costonis

(b 1655; d 1738). French dancer. She was called ‘la première des premières danseuses’ because she was the highest-ranked of the first ballerinas permitted to appear in public at the Paris Opéra. She danced the leading role in Lully’s Le triomphe de l’Amour at the Opéra (1681...

Article

Margaret M. McGowan

(b c1630; d after 1666). French dancer, instrumentalist and composer. His first name is unknown. He regularly performed in court ballets from 1653, when he was mentioned as playing the role of ‘une assez laide bourgeoise’ in Le ballet de la nuit, to 1666, when he danced as a muse in ...

Article

Maureen Needham Costonis

(b Paris, 1725; d 1777). French choreographer and dancer . He was the son of Antoine Bandieri de Laval (b Paris, 1688; d Paris, 20 Oct 1767), who had been a noted exponent of the danse sérieuse and had choreographed many revivals of operas by Campra and others. Michel-Jean joined the ...

Article

Jérôme de La Gorce

[Lulli, Giovanni Battista]

Member of Lully family

(b Florence, Nov 28, 1632; d Paris, March 22, 1687). Composer, dancer and instrumentalist of Italian birth.

Lully's origins were modest. His father, Lorenzo (1599–1667), seems to have come from peasant stock; like his ancestors, he was born in Tuscany in the Mugello area and probably at Campestri, where he, his brothers and a cousin owned a chestnut wood. By the age of twenty he was living in Florence, and in 1620 he married a miller's daughter, Catarina del Sera (or del Seta). They had three children: Verginio (1621–38), Giovanni Battista and Margherita (d 1639). Little is known about the education of the younger son. He may have learnt writing and arithmetic at an early age from his father, who became a miller and a businessman, but the boy probably had to turn to the Franciscan friars of the Via Borgo Ognissanti, where his parents lived, for his introduction to music and instruction on the guitar and violin, which he must have learnt in his youth. According to Le Cerf de la Viéville, his first music master was ‘a good Franciscan friar’. It is not known how he came to be chosen to go to France as an Italian tutor to Louis XIV's cousin Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, known as the ‘Grande Mademoiselle’, who was studying the language at the time, but he was engaged by the princess's uncle Roger de Lorraine, the chevalier de Guise, who visited Florence in ...

Article

John H. Baron

revised by Georgie Durosoir

(b c1615; d Paris, April 18, 1688). French dancer, composer, poet, lutenist and lute teacher. He was director of entertainments for the Countess of Soissons from at least 1636 until her death in 1644; it was her patronage that enabled him to enter the court. He became a royal lutenist in 1646 and was still playing the lute at court in 1673. He was named a royal dancer in 1644, and it is in this capacity that he achieved his greatest renown. He danced in nearly every ballet de cour from then until 1665 (e.g. Ballet du dérèglement des passions, 1648; Ballet de Cassandre, 1651; Ballet de la galanterie du temps, 1656), often alongside the young Louis XIV and his favourite, Lully. He composed music for ballets, and sometimes also the words (e.g. Ballet des plaisirs troublés, 1657). According to the Mercure galant (July 1677...