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Sergio Durante

[‘Il Luigino’ ]

( fl 1692–1706). Italian contralto castrato . His name first appears in a libretto in 1692 as Silandro in Pausania (composer unknown) at Crema, and he sang frequently thereafter in the principal Italian centres in lead and second-lead male parts. In Venice he appeared at S Giovanni Grisostomo in operas by C. F. Pollarolo (Tito Manlio, Marzio Coriolano, La fortuna per dote and Il Dafni). Galliard (1743), in the notes to his translation of Tosi’s treatise, indicated that he was a pupil of Pistocchi in the service of Emperor Josef I, but there is no record of such service. He served the Duke of Modena from 1694. Tosi cites him as Pistocchi’s successor only in terms of style. He was one of the best representatives of the generation of castratos after Pistocchi.

P. F. Tosi: Opinioni de’ cantori antichi e moderni (Bologna, 1723; Eng. trans. by ...

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Rudolf A. Rasch

(b Amsterdam, Nov 16, 1664; d Batavia, Dutch East Indies, Oct 4, 1721). Netherlands poet and playwright . Born into a wealthy family, he studied law in Leiden and Utrecht. He was one of the most important and prolific Netherlands poets and playwrights of the decades around 1700, although his works are now little esteemed. He wrote numerous song texts, as well as librettos for ...

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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 ...

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(fl 1691–6). Italian singer. She is described in contemporary documents as ‘torinese’, although that may refer to her service in the court of Turin; she is also described as ‘ musica di camera to His Royal Highness of Savoy’ in the libretto of La pace fra Tolomeo e Seleuco by C. F. Pollarolo (1691, Piacenza). A singer of no particular distinction, she usually took second female parts. Among the most important productions in which she appeared were those at the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo in Venice, where she sang with the best singers of the time: G. F. Tosi’s L’incoronazione di Serse (1691) and C. F. Pollarollo’s Ibraim sultano, Onorio in Roma (both 1692), Rosimonda and Ercole in Cielo (both 1696) and L’Ulisse sconosciuto (1698). By 1695 Aureli had married the librettist Pietro d’Averara. She seems not to have been related to the Bolognese family of singers of the same name....

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(b Florence; fl 1680–1717). Italian contralto castrato . The earliest reference to him is in 1680, when he sang in Le pompose feste di Vicenza (composer unknown) in Vicenza and the role of Tazio in P. S. Agostini’s Il ratto delle Sabine in Venice. In 1682 he took the leading role in Legrenzi’s Ottaviano Cesare Augusto at Mantua, and from that year until at least 1693 he styled himself ‘musician to Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua’. From 1684 he sang in many Italian cities. In 1700 he appeared in Ariosti’s Lucio Vero in Florence (Pratolino) and in his La festa d’Imeneo in Berlin. From 1708 he was in Vienna in the service of the Emperor Joseph I, and he took part in the production of C. A. Badia’s Gli amori di Circe con Ulisse (1709) and the intermezzo Vespetta e Milo (1717; by A. Scarlatti and F. Conti) in Dresden. Tosi mentioned him (as Baron Ballerini) for his qualities as an actor, and in particular for his masterly execution of dramatic recitative....

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Elisabeth Cook

(b Pesaro, 1697; d Pesaro, 1770). Italian impresario . After serving as maestro di cappella at Cortona and Pesaro, he spent some time in Moravia, where his operas Partenope (1733) and La pravità castigata (1734) were performed. He became impresario of the Regio Ducal Teatro Nuovo in Milan in 1745 and director of Italian opera at the city theatre in Strasbourg five years later. On 24 May 1752 he agreed to provide seven singers and an orchestra for performances in Rouen later that year, but this contract was revoked by the Opéra and the singers were summoned to Paris. Their part in the Querelle des Bouffons (opera) has been overemphasized: generally considered an integrated and talented troupe that took Paris by storm, the Bouffons were in reality a group of minor actors on the periphery of the Italian operatic world. Few of them had performed together before meeting in Strasbourg and, except for Bambini’s wife, the soprano Anna Tonelli, none had enjoyed widespread success in Italy. The eventual popularity of early performances such as Pergolesi’s ...

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Jérôme de La Gorce

(b Orléans, c1670; d Paris, 1745). French dramatist. After writing four tragedies for the Thé âtre Français, she is thought to have collaborated with the Abbé Pellegrin, who gave her advice, on several librettos: Les fêtes de l’été (1716), set by Montéclair, and Le judgement de Pâris...

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Mercedes Viale Ferrero

(b ?Parma, c1674; d c1740). Italian stage designer. A pupil of Ferdinando Galli-Bibiena, he was active as a painter of perspective scenery in many theatres of northern Italy: the Teatro Malvezzi, Bologna, Teatro Regio, Turin, Teatro di S Agostino, Genoa and the Teatro Omodeo, Pavia. In Milan he worked sporadically from 1709 (Gasparini’s Amor generoso at the Teatro delle Commedie) and then continuously from 1722 to 1736, mostly at the Regio Ducal Teatro where his productions included Gasparini’s Flavio Anicio Olibrio (1722) and Broschi’s Adriano in Siria (1736). His usual collaborator as decorator and figure painter was another of Galli-Bibiena’s pupils, Giovan Battista Medici (who in librettos of 1737–42 is named alone or with Fabrizio Galliari). Barbieri was also a theatre architect and designed the interior of the Regio Ducal, inaugurated on 26 December 1717 and destroyed by fire in 1776. Its appearance is known from an autograph drawing (Milan, Civica Raccolta delle stampe A. Bertarelli) and two engravings (reproduced by Latuada; see illustration): the auditorium was U-shaped, with Eve tiers each of 36 boxes. There is no reliable pictorial evidence for Barbieri’s long career as a stage designer....

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Philip Weller

(d 1688). French baritone (basse-taille). Recruited in Languedoc, he first sang in Paris in 1671, in Cambert’s Pomone (as Vertumne) and Les peines et les plaisirs de l’amour. He joined the Opéra in 1672. The Parfaict brothers (MS, F-Pn ) attributed the creation of the title role in Cadmus (1673) to Beaumavielle; Durey de Noinville (writing in 1753) to Gaye. The casts may have been different for the court and public performances, as in Bellérophon (1679), when Jobate was apparently sung by Gaye at St Germain but by Beaumavielle in Paris. Pluto (in Lully’s Proserpine, 1680) was similarly divided between them.

The principal basse-taille roles between 1676 and 1686 were taken mostly by Gaye, and later by Dun. Those sung by Beaumavielle included four in further works by Lully: Time (Atys, 1676), Jupiter (Isis, 1677), Phineus (Persée...

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Mercedes Viale Ferrero

(b Verona, Dec 20, 1691; d Verona, June 9, 1762). Italian stage designer. He studied painting first in Verona and then with the stage designer Alessandro Mauro in Venice. Between 1719 and 1721 he worked for the Teatro di S Giovanni Grisostomo in Venice, and in 1721 he moved to Turin, where he worked at the Teatro Carignano (designing the scenery for Gasparini’s Flavio Anicio Olibrio, staged under the title Ricimero) and collaborated with Filippo Juvarra in celebratory displays. In 1723 he worked in Bergamo and Crema, then in Bohemia (I724–30), where he designed a small theatre – the Rasentheater – for Count Sporck at Guckuksbade; he also designed the scenery for operas performed there (including that for the première of Bioni’s Orlando furioso, 1724) and at the count’s other private theatre in Prague (Bioni’s Armida abbandonata, 1725). After returning to Italy he designed a theatre for the Prince of Thurn und Taxis in Frankfurt in ...

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Margaret Murata

(b Cupramontana, Jan 11, 1596; d Rome, Oct 16, 1653). Italian librettist. After studying at the Collegio Romano he was active in Roman literary circles from the 1620s. He was secretary to Francesco Peretti (later Cardinal Montalto) by 1630 and to Camillo Pamphili (1644–7), before serving Pope Innocent X as ...

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(fl 1670–1707). Italian bass. His name appears first in 1670 in Milan, where he took the role of Giacco in Ippolita reina delle amazzoni, by Lodovico Busca, P. S. Agostini and P. A. Ziani. From 11 March 1678 until his dismissal on 15 January 1707 he was a virtuoso singer in the service of the dukes of Parma, Ranuccio II and Francesco I Farnese; he was also a musician of the church of the Madonna della Steccata Parma, from ...

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[Marianna] (Garberini) [‘La Romanina’]

(b Rome, ?1684; d Rome, Feb 26, 1734). Italian soprano. She first appeared in opera seria at Siena in Carnival 1704 (as Garberini Benti), first sang in Naples in 1706, Florence and Venice in 1707, and became one of the stars of the day. She apparently married Domenico (or Giuseppe) Bulgarelli near the beginning of ...

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Lowell Lindgren

(b Vignola, nr Modena, June 30, 1672; d Bologna, Jan 19, 1714). Italian librettist. From his youth he was a close friend of the scholar Lodovico Muratori in Modena. He became a member of the Accademia dell’Arcadia in Rome in 1691, taking the name Cromiro Dianio; his later tragedies and musical dramas reflect many of the refining and purifying ideals of the Arcadians. In his twenties, he served various noblemen in northern Italy and in Paris, where he resided between June and September 1699. In July 1701 he was named to succeed Niccolò Minato as an imperial poet in Vienna, after Zeno had refused the honour. Here he served first Leopold I, together with the poet Donato Cupeda (d 1704) then Joseph I, together with Silvio Stampiglia. Muratori’s letters reveal that Bernardoni returned to Italy when war ravaged Vienna in 1703–4, then again in 1706–7. He retired with an imperial pension in ...

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Sidney Jackson Jowers

(b Udine, 1678; d Vienna, Dec 7, 1743). Italian costume designer. He was engaged at the Viennese court theatre on 1 October 1707 as ‘disegnatore da camera’ at a salary of 1200 florins, and became drawing master to Empress Maria Theresa. The year after Metastasio became court poet, Bertoli was appointed Imperial Gallery Inspector (on ...

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Paola Besutti

(b Bologna; fl 1688–1719). Italian singer . She is first mentioned in 1688, when she sang Alvilda in Carlo Pallavicino’s L’amazone corsara, ovvero L’Alvilda regina de’ Goti and Lesbia in Giovanni Legrenzi’s Lisimaco riamato da Alessandro. She appeared with singers such as Margherita Salicola, Maria Maddalena Musi and Domenico Cecchi, and sang in many Italian cities, including Reggio Emilia, Modena, Ferrara, Parma, Milan, Naples, Casale, Udine, Venice, Verona, Genoa and Pesaro. She was still active in ...

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Harris S. Saunders

(b Venice; fl 1675–81). Italian librettist . His first libretto was for the Teatro ai Saloni, a small Venetian theatre used by academics for plays and only intermittently for opera. On the title-page, he styles himself the somnolent follower of Tasso (‘sonnolento tassista’), in his letter to the reader, he emphasizes that he is not a professional. His two other librettos were for successive seasons at the Teatro S Angelo. In all three works the emphasis is on lively, often comic, stage interaction, with plots loosely based on history. Odoacre, for example, mixes matters of war, love and succession and illustrates the havoc wrought by the tyrant Odoacer conqueror of Rome. Set by Giovanni Varischino Odoacre proved to be one of the most popular operas of the 1680s. Because of its modest staging requirements it could be easily mounted, even on provincial stages, and within seven years of its Venetian première it was produced in nine other towns. The last production under the original title was in Naples (...

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Alison Stonehouse

(b Albi, 1618; d Paris, July 22, 1688). French dramatist . Over a period of 50 years he wrote 23 plays, 14 of them tragedies, the rest machine-plays and comedies. He wrote the libretto for one opera, Méduse (C. H. Gervais, 1697); mainly in alexandrine verse, its plot revolves around Medusa’s love for Perseus and her jealous reaction to his love for Ismene. Boyer viewed Méduse as a tragedy set to music–a play to which intermèdes were added and in which spectacle was an important element. There are similarities with Metastasian drama in his plays Artaxerce, Porus, ou La générosité d’Alexandre and La mort de Démétrius; the last is echoed in Metastasio’s Antigono rather than Demetrio. Boyer’s Agamemnon was the source for the opera Cassandre (1706, Paris; music by Bouvard and Bertin de la Doué, libretto by Lagrange- Chancel), and Ulysse shows parallels with Rebel’s opera of the same name (...

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Michael Talbot

(b Ferrara, 1682; d Ferrara, July 26, 1752). Italian librettist. By profession he was a lawyer; most of his activity as a librettist took place during a period of residence in Venice around 1710–15. His earliest libretto was Crisippo, set by Floriano Arresti in 1710. The next year saw the appearance of his Armida in Damasco (G. Rampini), the first of nine librettos exclusively for the Venetian theatre of S Angelo. The best known of these are Orlando furioso and Orlando finto pazzo (both set by Vivaldi). The last of his librettos was Alessandro fra le Amazoni. After his return to Ferrara Braccioli ended his involvement with opera but remained active in other literary fields. He was a member of the Roman Arcadia under the name of Nigello Preteo. In his adaptation for the operatic stage of episodes from the epics of Ariosti, Boiardo and Tasso he showed imagination and ingenuity, managing to preserve something of the liveliness of his sources amid a ‘reforming’ literary climate quite alien in spirit....