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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b c1758; d Torquay, March 8, 1821). English soprano and composer. She made her début in October 1775 as the little gypsy in May Day, a piece designed for her by Garrick with music by her teacher Thomas Arne. However, she had limited success as a stage personality and in 1780 she left Drury Lane to become a principal singer at fashionable London concerts and provincial festivals. She appeared in the Handel Commemoration concerts in 1784, when Burney praised the sweetness and taste of her singing, in the next three Handel festivals, the Concerts of Ancient Music, and concert series organized by Rauzzini, Ashley and Salomon. Her sister Theodosia (d Torquay, 4 Nov 1849), whose voice Mount-Edgcumbe described as the most beautiful contralto he ever heard, often sang with her. In 1783, the Public Advertiser, while admiring Harriett's solo singing, commented that the ‘Forte...

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Thomas Bauman and Paul Corneilson

(b Rohr, nr Rothenburg, Bavaria, Feb 22, 1740, or Munich, July 6, 1743; d Vienna, Aug 24, 1804). German tenor. In 1755 he studied singing with J.E. Walleshauser (Giovanni Valesi) while at the Domus Gregoriana, a Jesuit institution in Munich. In 1760 he joined the Kapelle of Duke Clemens and on Clemens’s death in 1770 was taken into the elector’s Hofkapelle. After making his début at Munich in 1772 he sang leading tenor roles in opere serie at Modena, Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome (taking the italianized stage name Valentino Adamonti) from 1775 to 1777, then at the King’s Theatre in London until 1779. Following appearances at Florence and Milan, he joined the Singspiel company of the National Court Theatre at Vienna, where he made his début on 21 August 1780. In 1781 he married the Viennese actress Marie Anne Jacquet (1753–1804). On the dissolution of the Singspiel company in ...

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(b Modena, 1722; d Berlin, 1780). Italian soprano, wife of Johann Friedrich Agricola. She was the first of the three leading ladies (the other two were Giovanna Astrua and Elisabeth Schmeling Mara) at the Berlin Opera under Frederick the Great. A pupil of Porpora, Hasse and Salimbeni, she made her début as prima donna in C.H. Graun’s Cesare e Cleopatra (1743). The arrival of Giovanna Astrua in 1748 forced her to take second place, but strengthened her impulse towards oratorio: thus, for example, she sang the leading solo soprano part in Graun’s Tod Jesu at its première in 1755. Burney (Present State of Music in Germany, 1773) wrote of her singing: ‘she is now near fifty years of age, and yet sings songs of bravura, with amazing rapidity … her compass extends from A in the base, to D in alt, and she has a most perfect shake and intonation’. When her husband died in ...

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Kathleen Kuzmick Hansell

[‘La Bastardina’, ‘La Bastardella’]

(b Ferrara, 1743; d Parma, May 18, 1783). Italian soprano. Traditions explaining her nickname describe her variously as a foundling raised by Leopoldo Aguiari, his natural daughter or that of Marchese Bentivoglio, while her pronounced limp was supposedly the result of having been partly eaten in infancy by a dog or hog. Her early studies in Ferrara with Brizio Petrucci, maestro di cappella at the cathedral, and then with Abbé Lambertini revealed her exceptional talents. After her opera début (1764, Florence) and initial successes (Padua, Lucca and Verona, 1765; Genoa, Lucca and Parma, 1766) she settled in Parma, where she met the composer Giuseppe Colla, the new maestro. On 1 January 1768 the court at Parma appointed her virtuosa di camera. She became one of Europe’s most sought-after sopranos.

In May 1768 Aguiari sang at Naples in Paisiello’s Le nozze di Peleo e Tetide for the wedding of the king and Maria Carolina. Paisiello, reportedly out of spite, composed for her two extremely difficult arias, which, however, she carried off triumphantly. At Parma in the summer of ...

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(b Albano Laziale, nr Rome, 1729; d Paris, 1800). French castrato and composer of Italian origin. Educated in Naples, he went to Paris in 1747 and soon found employment in the royal chapel of Louis XV. From 1752 to 1762 he was a prominent soloist in the Concert Spirituel, appearing frequently in performances of Pergolesi’s Stabat mater. He also performed duos with a pupil, Mlle Hardy (or Hardi), at these concerts. He apparently retired from public performance about 1764–5, and thereafter taught singing and composed solo songs and duos with various combinations of instrumental accompaniment. In 1774 he received a life pension of 2000 livres annually, equivalent to the total income from his royal appointments. His published works include several collections of airs for one or more voices (some in collaboration with Joseph Mongenot or with J.-G. Cardon and all but one published between 1767 and 1781), as well as some chamber music. He also wrote the music for two lyric scenes performed by the Petits Comédiens du Bois de Boulogne, ...

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Dorothea Link

(fl 1782–99). Italian bass. He spent the early part of his career mainly in Rome. For the 1788–9 season he was a member of the opera buffa company in Vienna. He made his début on 4 April 1788 as Biscroma in Salieri’s Axur, re d’Ormus, sang the title role in the first Vienna performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni on 7 May 1788, and created the role of the Marchese in Weigl’s Il pazzo per forza. Mozart contributed an aria for him (no. in Köchel, 1862; for items not in 1862 edn, no. from 2/1905 or 3/1937 given. K541) in his role of Don Pompeo for the 1788 version of Anfossi’s Le gelosie fortunate. Albertarelli’s final role in Vienna was Brunetto in Da Ponte’s pasticcio L’ape musicale in March 1789. Later that year he appeared in Milan and Monza. The remainder of his career was centred in Italy, but he also sang in London (...

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Winton Dean

(fl 1699–1738). Italian alto castrato. His first known appearance was in Livorno in 1699. Probably from Florence, he had a long career there, singing in 24 operas, including works by Orlandini, Gasparini and Albinoni, 1701–38. He was employed by the Cardinal and later the Grand Duchess of Tuscany. He sang in Venice in ...

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Roland Würtz and Paul Corneilson

(b Venice, 1754; d Ireland, after 1801). Italian soprano. She made her début in 1770 in Venice and in 1771 went from Florence to Mannheim, possibly on a recommendation by Casanova to the Mannheim court poet, Mattia Verazi. Holzbauer gave her singing lessons and employed her as second soubrette in the court opera (1771–5). She made her Mannheim début in 1771 in Piccinni's Gli stravaganti (Nerina) and appeared the following year at the palace theatre in Schwetzingen in Gassmann's L’amore artigiano (Angiolina) and Sacchini’s La contadina in corte (Tancia); Burney gave a glowing report of her. After 1778 she sang in Venice and Florence, in 1781 in London, making her début there in Anfossi’s I viaggiatori felici. On 20 July 1783 she was engaged by Bertholdi at a salary of 1000 ducats as prima donna buffa at the Dresden court opera, where Mozart heard her and placed her above Ferrarese (letter of ...

Article

(b 1780; d after 1833). Italian bass . He sang in Italy from about 1807, then appeared at the Théâtre Italien, Paris (1815). Engaged at the King’s Theatre, London, he made his début as Count Almaviva, then sang Don Giovanni (1817), Dr Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia...

Article

Kay Lipton

(Maria)

(b Venice, Sept 16, 1716; d Dresden, Nov 15, 1798). Italian tenor. He was considered one of the greatest tenors of the first half of the 18th century. He established his reputation as a singer of serious roles at the remarkably early age of 13, singing in revivals of Lanciani’s Amore e gratitudine and in Vivaldi’s Ottone in Villa (both Treviso 1729), in Porpora’s Mitridate and Siface (Rome 1730), and in Hasse’s Dalisa (Venice 1730). Between 1731 and 1736 he appeared in major productions in Turin (Broschi’s Ezio), Milan (Giacomelli’s Cesare in Egitto), Venice (Porpora’s Annibale and possibly in Hasse’s Alessandro nell’Indie), Pesaro (Hasse’s La clemenza di Tito), and elsewhere in northern Italy. He moved to Naples in 1736, where he sang in several operas, among them two operas by Sarro; his Achille in Sciro was the inaugural opera for the Teatro S Carlo (...

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(b Lucca; d Lucca, April 23, 1797). Italian mezzo-soprano castrato. In 1736 he was appointed first soprano to the Palatine Chapel in Lucca. He sang in two operas (including Hasse's Demetrio) at Rimini in 1737, at Venice in 1738–9 in operas by Pergolesi, Lampugnani, Hasse and Porpora, and in Reggio nell'Emilia in 1739. Lord Middlesex engaged him for his experimental opera season at London's New Theatre in the Haymarket (1739–40); he appeared in three operas. He returned the two following years, singing in Handel's final, unsuccessful opera season at Lincoln's Inn Fields (1740–41), and in Lord Middlesex's King's Theatre company as second man to Monticelli, mostly in pasticcios (1741–42). Under Handel he created the parts of Tirinthus in Imeneo and Ulysses in Deidamia and sang in revivals of L'Allegro, Acis and Galatea, Saul and probably Parnasso in festa. His roles in the English works were translated into Italian. Burney called him ‘a good singer of the second class’; his Handel parts indicate a capable technique and a voice and compass (...

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Theodore Fenner

(b Reggio Emilia, c1765; fl 1786–1826). Italian bass. Between 1786 and 1794 he sang in some of the leading theatres in Italy, including those at Bologna, Florence, Venice, Turin and Milan. In 1794 he went to Vienna, singing in operas by Cimarosa and Paisiello at the Hoftheater until 1800. In the first decade of the 19th century he returned to La Scala, also singing in Verona and Vicenza. He made his début at the King’s Theatre in London in 1816–17 and during the following seasons appeared with Pasta, Fodor-Mainvielle, Naldi and Ambrogietti. His diverse repertory included Mozart’s Figaro and Sarastro and Rossini’s Bartolo. In 1825–6 Angrisani made a tour of North America and appeared in the first New York performances of Don Giovanni, Tancredi, La Cenerentola and Il turco in Italia. Nothing is known of his last years.

GSL T. Fenner: Leigh Hunt and Opera Criticism: the ‘Examiner’ Years, 1808–1821...

Article

Dennis Libby

(b Rome, ?Feb 20, 1744; d Florence, July 5, 1826). Italian tenor. He began in opera seria in 1768 at Bologna and Venice, then appeared at Udine in 1770. He sang in Copenhagen (Sarti’s Demofoonte, 1771) and Germany, resuming his Italian career in August 1773, when he was engaged at leading houses to Carnival 1795. He appeared in Mysliveček’s Calliroe at Pisa in 1779, and in Anfossi’s Tito nelle Gallie and Cimarosa’s Cajo Mario in Rome in 1780; in that year he was also at the King’s Theatre, London. In 1778 he married the prima donna Giuseppina Maccherini (or Maccarini; fl 1765–91). Burney described his voice as ‘sweet, powerful, even, and of great compass and volubility’; others speak of a timbro stupendo, especially in the middle and lower registers, which, joined to his forceful acting, frequently created a furore, making him a prime agent in the shifting of focus in ...

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Dale E. Monson

[Scirolo, Sciroletto, Scirolino]

(b Martina Franca, Taranto, Oct 28, 1732; d Martina Franca, Jan 11, 1813). Italian soprano castrato and composer. His early musical training from his father, Fortunato (a notary and church singer), was followed when he was 19 by study with Gregorio Sciroli in Naples (thus his nickname). He made his début in Sciroli's Il barone deluso (1752, Rome). Until 1757 he sang in Naples (in the royal chapel, 1752–6, though librettos continue to list him in the service of the court until 1758), Turin and Rome (where in 1754–5 he became primo uomo); during the next few years he travelled, visiting Venice, Madrid and Stuttgart. After returning briefly to Italy, he was appointed primo uomo in Stuttgart for the period 1762–9 (with one Italian interlude), appearing in Jommelli's Didone abbandonata (1763), Demofoonte (1764) and Fetonte (1768), among other works, and enjoying a salary comparable to Jommelli's own. His brother Raffaele, a violinist, was also engaged at court. The depletion of the duke's ...

Article

John Rosselli

[‘Il Comaschino’]

(b Como, c 1750–55; d after 1798). Italian castrato singer. Most of his career was spent in Russia. He sang the female leads in three successive seasons at the Teatro Argentina, Rome (1772–4), starting with Anfossi’s Alessandro nell’Indie, then appeared in Venice and Vienna, and reached St Petersburg in 1778. From 1780 to 1789 he was a leading singer at the court theatre, where he sang Orpheus in the Russian première of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (1782); he created Peter in Paisiello’s oratorio La passione di Gesù Cristo (1783). He retired in 1789 but stayed on until 1794 in Moscow; in 1795 he was at the court of the king of Poland. While based in Russia he made several trips abroad to recruit singers and buy materials for the imperial theatres. Mooser deduces (perhaps wrongly) that he pimped for the foreign minister, Alexander Bezborodko. On his return to Italy he bought lands formerly belonging to the noble Visconti family. No description of his singing appears to be known....

Article

(b Bourmont-en-Bassigny, Haute-Marne, June 7, 1732; d Paris, May 21, 1801). French impresario, singer and dramatist. He first made his name as a singer with the Opéra-Comique (after about 1758), chiefly in artisan roles; no doubt it was to exploit this special talent that he was allowed to put on an opéra comique of his own, Le tonnelier, after La Fontaine's Le cuvier (Foire St Laurent, 28 September 1761). The work failed but Audinot nevertheless joined the Comédie-Italienne when that company merged with the Opéra-Comique in 1762. Audinot revised the libretto of Le tonnelier with A.-F. Quétant, and the work was revived on 16 March 1765 at the Comédie-Italienne with new ariettes and ensembles by various composers. In this new version it had considerable success in France, Holland and Germany alike. Audinot left the Comédie-Italienne in 1767 and soon became one of the principal impresarios of the Paris stage. After attracting crowds to his puppet show at the Foire St Germain, he opened the Théâtre de l'Ambigu-Comique on ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Bologna, Feb 19, 1754; d Bologna, Sept 22, 1816). Italian tenor . He studied with Arcangelo Cortoni and made his début in 1773 in Modena. After singing in various Italian cities, he was engaged at the court operas of Berlin and then St Petersburg (1777–81), where he was much admired in works by Paisiello. He appeared in Lisbon, Madrid, Vienna, at the King’s Theatre, London (...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, ?1745; d Edinburgh, July 1, 1786). English actress and soprano . Daughter of the trumpeter Valentine Snow, she eloped with the actor Robert Baddeley and in 1764 made her début as Ophelia at Drury Lane. Although the prompter Hopkins found her Ophelia ‘very bad, all but the singing’, she made a charming heroine in genteel and Shakespearean comedy. In English operas she was particularly successful as Patty (The Maid of the Mill) and Rosetta (Love in a Village). She created roles in Dibdin’s Ephesian Matron and Recruiting Sergeant and her performance of his song in praise of Shakespeare, ‘Sweet Willy O’, was the hit of the Garrick Jubilee. Her beauty gained her many admirers, but her scandalous private life, extravagance and indulgence in laudanum eventually destroyed her. After 1780 she appeared only in Dublin, the provinces and finally Edinburgh, where she died in poverty....

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Percy M. Young

(b c1727; d London, bur. May 2, 1774). English composer and singer. He was for some time a lay clerk in Westminster Abbey and in 1754, 1758 and 1759 took part in the Foundling Hospital performances of Messiah under Handel. He was described in the subsequent list of Boyce’s Cathedral Music (1760) as organist of St Luke’s, Old Street, and All Saints, Fulham. Baildon’s best songs rival those of T.A. Arne and his music for ‘When is it best’, with which he won the Catch Club prize in 1763, was occasionally borrowed for the theatre by Arne and Stephen Storace (ii). In accordance with the spirit of the age Baildon sometimes parodied Handel, as for example with the extravagant figuration in ‘A Complaint’. The songs in the final version of The Laurel almost constitute a song cycle.

His brother Thomas Baildon (d London, 1 Oct 1762...

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Dennis Libby

(b ?Genoa, ?1758; d after 1784). Italian soprano . She was said to have come from an impoverished noble Genoese family, her real name being Maria Bertaldi. Although she sang in opera seria alone from 1778 to 1784, retiring after her marriage, she made a great impression and was long remembered. She appeared at Pavia, Venice, Milan (as seconda donna in the distinguished company that opened La Scala in ...