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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 ...

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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....

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Robert Lamar Weaver

(b Tuscany, c1730; d after 1792). Italian librettist and stage director. He was one of two poets at the Teatro del Cocomero in Florence around 1755, a position requiring him to alter and add to librettos by other authors, notably Goldoni. His I matrimoni in maschera (1763) and L’amore industrioso (1765), comic operas composed by G. M. Rutini, established the reputations of both men in Italy and can be regarded as Casorri’s masterpieces. He was an active translator into Italian of French farces, the most successful being Il disertore, originally by L. S. Mercier and set to music by Giuseppe Gazzaniga, which probably owed its popularity to its unswerving morality and optimism. Casorri wrote two opera seria librettos, Attalo, re di Bitinia (1780) and Mesenzio, re d’Etruria, the latter set by the young Cherubini in 1782; both are solemn and noble, though conventional. In the 1790s Casorri directed a Tuscan prose company which performed in the Palla a Corda and the Piazza Vecchia theatres. His principal composer there was Neri Bondi; Casorri wrote and translated intermezzos and farces for the company to perform....

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John Black

(b Rome, April 24, 1840; d Milan, July 29, 1924). Italian librettist and impresario . He began his working life as a playwright and literary critic but in 1868 was appointed stage director at La Scala, in which capacity he assisted with the preparations for the première of Aida in Cairo. In the 30 years from 1862 he wrote nearly 30 librettos and translated a number of others. Until the end of his life he ran a theatrical agency sending opera companies to South America. His librettos, of which Ruy Blas was the most frequently heard, were thoroughly romantic, illuminated by the historical extravagances of Parisian grand opera, and often incorporated important ballets.

Iginia d’Asti, F. Sangiorgio, 1862; Guisemberga di Spoleto (tragedia lirica), Sangiorgio, 1864; Le due amiche (dramma lirico), T. Seneke, 1866; Graziella (idillio drammatico), D. Monti, 1869; Ruy Blas (dramma lirico), Marchetti, 1869; Il Guarany (opera-ballo, with ...

Article

Christopher Smith

(b Paris, Aug 22, 1790; d Paris, Nov 19, 1859). French theatre manager, playwright and librettist . His earliest work was an Ode sur le mariage de S. M. l’Empereur (1810), but after the fall of Napoleon he devoted his energies exclusively to the theatre. His favourite dramatic form was the brief comédie-vaudeville and, like many of his contemporaries, he often worked with collaborators, notably Eugène Scribe and Mélesville. Among the relatively small number of his opera librettos the most famous is that of the two-act Le comte Ory, written with Scribe and set to music by Rossini. First performed in 1828, it is based on a one-act comédie-vaudeville, also the product of collaboration between Delestre-Poirson and Scribe, dating from 1816. This so-called ‘Anecdote from the 11th century’ pokes fun at the ‘troubadour’ medievalism that was a feature of early Romanticism in France. In December 1820 Delestre-Poirson became manager of the new Gymnase-Dramatique (sometimes called the Théâtre de Madame); he retired from this post in ...

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Michael Talbot

(b Venice, Sept 23, 1689; d ?Moscow, after 1763). Italian tenor, impresario and librettist . He sang at Venice and elsewhere in Italy between 1715 and 1723, at first taking leading roles such as Artabanus in Vivaldi’s La costanza trionfante degli amori e degli odii (Venice, Carnival 1716), but within a few years singing only minor parts. In 1724 the impresario Antonio Maria Peruzzi engaged Denzio to assemble a company of singers in Venice and bring them to Prague, where they performed in the theatres of Count Franz Anton von Sporck. Peruzzi’s financial mismanagement of the company led to his being replaced as impresario by Denzio late in that year; in the next ten years Denzio staged 57 productions of operas and sacred dramas in Prague, including works by Vivaldi and Albinoni as well as by the troupe’s composers, Antonio Bioni and Giovanni Antonio Guerra. Denzio’s own librettos included ...

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(b McKeesport, pa , April 8, 1935). American administrator and composer . He studied the piano and composition in Los Angeles and in 1958 went to Italy, where he was engaged in research into unpublished 18th-century Italian opera. In 1960 he returned to Los Angeles and began teaching there; he moved to Michigan in 1962 and the following year established the educational programme ‘Overture to Opera’, bringing opera performances to schools and community centres throughout the state. He founded and became director of the Michigan Opera Theatre (1971) and the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts (1973). Under DiChiera the Opera Theatre staged revivals of American operas by Gershwin, Blitzstein, Gruenberg and others, and the première of Pasatieri’s Washington Square (1976); in 1981 the company began a series of national operas, including American premières of works by Tigranyan and Moniuszko. DiChiera was president of Opera America from ...

Article

Steven Huebner

(b Orange, July 16, 1832; d Capri, Oct 9, 1903). French theatre director and librettist . After serving as an assistant to his uncle Emile Perrin during his tenure as director of the Paris Opéra from 1862 to 1870, Du Locle administered the Opéra-Comique with Adolphe de Leuven from 1870 to 1874, and alone from 1874 to 1876. As a director he is best remembered for having mounted the première of Bizet’s Carmen in 1875, a controversial production that met with little initial success. Du Locle also championed the works of Gounod at the Opéra-Comique following the demise of the Théâtre Lyrique in the late 1860s.‘At last [Boieldieu’s] La dame blanche is no longer making money’, he is said to have once exclaimed, with epigrammatic verve reflective of a fundamentally innovatory spirit. He was a close friend of Ernest Reyer, with whom he collaborated as librettist on Sigurd (...

Article

Robert Lamar Weaver

(b Florence, April 15, 1759; d Florence, Feb 10, 1830). Italian director and librettist. He wrote spoken tragedies, including La strage degli innocenti (1782), performed at the Borgo Ognissanti theatre in Florence, and Enrico, e Sofia (1783), given at the Cocomero. About 1784 he became director of prose comedies for the Compagnia Nazionale Toscana, resident at the Cocomero; he was also a poet there with the duty of ‘accommodating’ librettos. He wrote at least two melodramas, for which Giuseppe Moneta furnished the music, and two comic intermezzos. He then turned to serious opera, with Ines de Castro, set to music first by Giordaniello, then by Andreozzi and subsequently, as a pasticcio, by several composers. An ardent patriot and supporter of the Habsburg-Lorraine rule, he wrote La felicità in Etruria (which he adjusted to previously composed, anonymous music) in 1799 to celebrate Ferdinando III’s restoration to the grand duchy after the first French occupation in that year. An account book of the Accademia degl’Infuocati refers to Giotti in ...

Article

[Hennseler, Albert Friedrich ]

(b Vaihingen, Württemberg, bap. Feb 1, 1759; d Vienna, Nov 24, 1825). German librettist and director . A doctor’s son, he studied theology at Tübingen University before moving in 1784 to Vienna, where he spent the rest of his life. He became a freemason. Marinelli engaged him as a house poet at the Theater in der Leopoldstadt, and between 1785 and 1803 Hensler turned out about 100 plays, farces, Singspiels and librettos. He succeeded Marinelli as director in 1803, and remained there until 1816. In 1818 he was at the Theater an der Wien, then in Pressburg (Bratislava) and Baden, near Vienna; back in Vienna, he helped finance the building of the Theater in der Josefstadt and became director on its inauguration in 1822.

Together with Schikaneder and Perinet, Hensler was among the most successful of late 18th-century dramatists in Vienna. He aimed above all to establish a truly popular genre of Viennese theatre with a repertory of high quality. His early dramas show the influence of bourgeois comedy and of Kotzebue in particular; later he took up the ...

Article

Katherine K. Preston

(b New York, Feb 11, 1929; d Westerlo, NY, May 18, 2011). American composer and director . He attended the Curtis Institute (1945–50) and later Columbia University, and studied composition with Szell, Scalero, Menotti and Barber. In 1950–51 he was music director for a Broadway revival of Menotti’s The Medium and The Telephone and for Weill’s Lady in the Dark. Shortly thereafter he was assistant music director for NBC television’s Opera Theatre (1955–9); he also directed his own operas. He taught at SUNY, Albany, from 1978 to 1988. Principally a vocal composer, Kastle received several awards including an NEA grant; his opera The Pariahs, about whaling, was commissioned by the Deerfield Foundation. The Mother Ann operas are about the Shakers, while Desert is based on the life of the Mormon prophet Brigham Young. His music, although harmonically modern, is romantic, tonal and melodic.

Article

(b ?1800; d Paris, April 14, 1884). French librettist and director. Of Swedish descent, de Leuven assumed his grandmother’s name, and occasionally wrote under the pseudonyms Granval or Adolphe. As a young man he befriended Alexandre Dumas père and collaborated with him for his first play, a one-act vaudeville (1825). In all he produced more than 170 plays and librettos (usually vaudevilles or opéras comiques), collaborating with Brunswick, Pittaud de Forges, de Planard (his father-in-law), and others. Some of his six dozen operas (with Adam, Clapisson, Bazin, or Thomas) were quite popular in their own era. He was named a member of the Légion d’honneur (29 April 1847) and an officer (9 August 1870).

From 20 December 1862 to 19 January 1874 de Leuven directed the Opéra-Comique, first with Ritt (administrator) and from January 1870 with Du Locle (co-director). His old-fashioned tastes served to counterbalance Du Locle’s adventurousness, but also created friction between them. Ludovic Halévy claimed that de Leuven resigned in ...

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Bruce Carr

(Heinrich Anton Magnus)

(b Hamburg, June 13, 1843; d New York, Dec 4, 1897). American conductor, impresario and composer of German birth. He went to New York in 1854, and studied the violin and piano; at the age of 16 he became leader of the Stadt Theater orchestra in New York. After a season in Milwaukee (1864–5) he returned to New York as chorus master at the Stadt Theater, where Karl Anschütz was trying to establish a German opera. In 1867 he took over as director for four seasons, during the last of which he brought a troupe from Europe to perform several German works, including Lohengrin in its first American production (3 April 1871). In 1872, with Carl Rosa and the tenor Theodor Wachtel, he presented a season of Italian opera at the Academy of Music, and from 1872 to 1874 he was manager of the Germania Theatre. Wachtel returned to the Academy in ...

Article

Ferenc Bónis

(b Budapest, Jan 1, 1892; d Budapest, Nov 4, 1935). Hungarian director, composer and critic . He studied composition with Koessler and Viktor Herzfeld at the Budapest Academy of Music (1906–11) and later taught at the Fodor Conservatory (1912–19) and at the Budapest College of Music (1919–25). He also wrote music criticism for various daily newspapers in the Hungarian capital from 1919 to 1925. From August 1925 until his early death he was artistic director of the Royal Hungarian Opera House in Budapest. His tenure brought consolidation and higher artistic standards to the institution between the two world wars. By engaging young artists (János Ferencsik as co-répétiteur, later conductor, and Kálmán Nádasdy and Gusztáv Oláh as directors), he ushered in a new phase in the history of the opera house. Radnai engaged the leading Italian conductor Sergio Failoni as chief conductor for the Wagner, Verdi, Bartók and Kodály repertory. He was as eager to produce the works of contemporary Hungarian composers (Jenő Ádám, Bartók, Ernő Dohnányi, Hubay, Kodály, Kósa, Albert Siklós, Tivadar Szántó, Leó Weiner) as those of earlier masters of Hungarian music (Erkel, Liszt, Mosonyi) and of his foreign contemporaries (Debussy, Falla, Hindemith, Malipiero, Milhaud, Ravel, Respighi, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Zandonai). In revitalizing the design and production side, establishing discipline during rehearsals and performances, and educating a young and gifted generation of singers, Radnai created one of the most successful chapters in the history of Hungarian opera. He also contributed knowledgeable studies of works by Gounod, Erkel, Poldini and Goldmark to the literature of operatic analysis....

Article

Christopher Smith

(b Paris, 1803; d Paris, April 11, 1875). French theatre manager and librettist . He first made his name with historical fiction and drama of a Romantic kind and then, after making the fashionable journey to the Levant, with travel books. He subsequently devoted his energies to the theatre, writing comédies-vaudevilles and other plays, generally in collaboration and most often with Gustave Vaëz . Royer was director of the Théâtre de l’Odéon in Paris from 1853 to 1856, and (with Vaëz as deputy for the first four years) of the Opéra from 1856 to 1862, when he was appointed Inspecteur-général des beaux-arts. As well as writing the libretto for Donizetti’s La favorite (1840), Royer and Vaëz helped to make Italian opera accessible to the Parisian public with their French translations of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (1839), Rossini’s Otello (1844) and Verdi’s I Lombardi (as ...

Article

Carolyn Gianturco

(b Perugia, March 3, 1911; d Rome, Dec 17, 1996). Italian music administrator and composer . He took a diploma in composition at the Florence Conservatory with Frazzi and Pizzetti (1935) as well as receiving university degrees in law and in political science. Though successful in the 1930s as a composer, he decided on a career in administration which he pursued in the most important opera houses in Italy: he was artistic director successively of S Carlo, Naples (1940–48), of the Teatro Comunale and the Maggio Musicale, Florence (1948–57), and of La Scala, Milan (1957–66 and 1980–83). He founded and directed the Sagra Musicale Umbra of Perugia (1947), an international festival. From 1983 to 1990 he was president of the S Cecilia Conservatory in Rome, and he was president of the Panatenee Pompeiane from 1985. In 1988 he was awarded the Venetian prize ‘Una vita per la musica’....

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Barry Millington, John Deathridge and Christa Jost

In 

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Arthur Jacobs

(b Preston, Nov 14, 1927; d London, March 23, 2007). English administrator, translator and librettist. After working as music critic for The Observer (1958–65), he became a director of the Sadler’s Wells (later English National) Opera, with responsibilities for repertory planning and literary texts. He became one of the company’s most prominent translators with such works as ...

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(b Rouen, Dec 15, 1821; d Paris, Nov 2, 1884). French theatre administrator and composer . He was the son of a famous French actor known as Ferville. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1835, studied under Marmontel, Victor-Charles-Paul Dourlen and Cherubini and took the second prix for solfège in 1838. In 1871 he became professor of vocal ensemble at the Conservatoire, in 1872 government commissioner of subsidized theatres, in 1878 Inspector General for the Arts, and from 1879 director of the Opéra. Works seen there for the first time during his term of office included Aida, Gounod’s Le tribut de Zamora, Thomas’ Françoise de Rimini and Saint-Saëns’ Henri VIII.

His compositions included the opéra comiqueBataille d’amour (Paris, Opéra-Comique, Salle Favart, 13 April 1863), the scène lyriqueLa mort de Diane (performed at the Conservatoire by Gabrielle Krauss in 1870), the opera Mahomet (of which only a few excerpts were performed), songs and orchestral and chamber music....

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Patrick O’Connor

(b Mt Kisco, ny, April 3, 1953). American director, librettist and translator. He began his career as a journalist, then worked as a stage director and as artistic director of Skylight Opera in Milwaukee, where his first production was L’incoronazione di Poppea (1982), followed by Orfeo and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria. For Bernstein he wrote the libretto of A Quiet Place (1983), which he also directed at La Scala and in Vienna. His productions of Gluck’s Orphée (1988, Seattle), and Handel’s Xerxes (1985, Milwaukee), Alcina (1987, St Louis) and Partenope (1988, Omaha) all furthered his concern with the modern interpretation of Baroque opera. He has also translated Monteverdi’s Orfeo and the three Handel works mentioned, and has given classes at many American colleges; he was Head of the Opera Program at the Manhattan School of Music in 1991. His work for the stage is distinguished by a concern for the clarity of story-telling, a preference for opera in English and an awareness of trends in other artistic fields. Other productions include ...