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Article

Alina Nowak-Romanowicz

[Gioacchino ]

(b Pesaro, Nov 30, 1748; d Warsaw, March 27, 1812). Polish composer of Italian birth . He was known as an aria composer and ‘young virtuoso’ in 1777. Later he was conductor at Prince Karol Radziwiłł’s residence at Nieśwież, and from 1782 maître de chapelle at King Stanisław August Poniatowski’s court in Warsaw. In 1796 he went to Rome, and in autumn 1803 was back in Poland, where he spent the rest of his life. He is principally known for his opera Don Juan albo Ukarany libertyn (‘Don Juan, or The Rake Punished’), believed to have been performed in Warsaw with an Italian text by G. Bertati in 1780–81; in 1783 it was performed in Polish, and it was later twice revised by Albertini for performances in 1790 and 1803.

Article

[Juan Pedro, Giovanni Pietro, Carlos Francisco]

(b Lisbon, June 24, 1744; d Madrid, c 1817). Portuguese tenor and composer active in Spain. He sang in Lisbon, Braga, Santiago de Compostela and Mondeñedo (after October 1772) and as maestro de capilla in Lugo (after July 1775) and Astorga (after March 1783). He then went to Madrid as maestro de música at the Real Capilla.

Most of his compositions are liturgical, but some secular works have survived, including two arias for soprano and orchestra, ‘Mi sento il cor trafiggere’ and ‘Quegl’ occhietti si fur’, which may be fragments of an opera.

On 15 August 1774 his opera buffa Il matrimonio per concorso was first performed at Mondoñedo. The libretto was by Gaetano Martinelli, a poet at the Portuguese court and the author of several other librettos. The score is lost but programmes have survived, with text in Italian and Spanish.

X. M. Carreira...

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

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

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 ...

Article

Elisabeth Cook

[Maria Antonia Josefa Johanna ]

(b Vienna, Nov 2, 1755; d Paris, Oct 16, 1793). Queen of France and patron of opera . The daughter of Emperor Franz I of Austria, she received her early tuition from Gluck (clavecin and singing) and Noverre (dance and deportment). As dauphine (1770) and later queen of France (1774), she supported a great many artists working within the field of opera. The success of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide at the Opéra in 1774 was due largely to the presence of the entire court at the première and to the dauphine’s enthusiastic applause for individual numbers. Accused of favouring Austrian interests too overtly, she was obliged to welcome Piccinni to Paris, and later favoured Sacchini until further criticism forced her to support native composers: for celebrations at Fontainebleau in 1786 Lemoyne’s Phèdre was staged in preference to Sacchini’s Oedipe à Colone. Works by Grétry (...

Article

Michaela Freemanová and Geoffrey Chew

(fl 1760–1806). Czech composer. He was a teacher in Nemyčeves near Jičín (1760–92), then in Kopidlno. Most of his work output consists of church music, but he also wrote the Opera de rebellione boëmica rusticorum, which deals with the great peasant rebellion in East Bohemia of 1775. The work seems to have gained popularity in its time: it appears in several musical collections, and also as a spoken drama. The opera is composed in a late Baroque idiom, with Rococo features; to highlight the contrast between the lives of peasants and the nobility, it uses elements of folk and art music.

J. Němeček: Lidové zpěvohry a písně z doby roboty [Folk Singspiels and songs from the time of serfdom] (Prague, 1954)T. Volek: ‘První české zpěvohry’ [The first Czech Singspiels], Dějiny českého divadla [History of Czech theatre], vol.1: Od počátku do sklonku osmnáctého století [From the Beginning to the end of the 18th century], ed. ...

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

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

Christoph Wolff and Ulrich Leisinger

Member of Bach family

(46) (b Weimar, March 8, 1714; d Hamburg, Dec 14, 1788). Composer and church musician, the second surviving son of (7) Johann Sebastian Bach (24) and his first wife, Maria Barbara. He was the most important composer in Protestant Germany during the second half of the 18th century, and enjoyed unqualified admiration and recognition particularly as a teacher and keyboard composer.

He was baptized on 10 March 1714, with Telemann as one of his godfathers. In 1717 he moved with the family to Cöthen, where his father had been appointed Kapellmeister. His mother died in 1720, and in spring 1723 the family moved to Leipzig, where Emanuel began attending the Thomasschule as a day-boy on 14 June 1723. J.S. Bach said later that one of his reasons for accepting the post of Kantor at the Thomasschule was that his sons’ intellectual development suggested that they would benefit from a university education. Emanuel Bach received his musical training from his father, who gave him keyboard and organ lessons. There may once have been some kind of ...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Lyck, East Prussia, June 8, 1756; d Königsberg, March 27, 1823). German librettist. At 21, after studying law at Königsberg, he went blind. Thereafter he taught history at an artillery academy and wrote novels, several works on Prussian history and musical texts for local use. Three of his librettos were published in ...

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....

Article

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 ...

Article

(b Bologna, fl 1716–67). Italian singer. She is referred to in some programmes as Ferrarese – perhaps through confusion with her father, the bass Francesco Belisani – but is the ‘Belisania’ mentioned in the celebrated frontispiece of Marcello’s Il teatro alla moda. She sang in opera seria and pastoral dramas from 1716 (Armida abbandonata), mostly in works by the Bolognese composer G. M. Buini, whom she married in 1721, but parts were also written for her by Vivaldi (Gliinganni per vendetta, 1720), Chelleri, Orlandini, Brivio and others. From 1727 she styled herself virtuosa of the Prince of Hessen-Darmstadt, governor of Mantua.

G. F. Malipiero: Antonio Vivaldi, il prete rosso (Milan, 1958) S. Durante: ‘Alcune considerazioni sui cantanti di teatro del primo settecento e la loro formazione’, Antonio Vivaldi: teatro musicale, cultura e società: Venice 1981, 427–82 E. Selfridge-Field: ‘Marcello, Sant’Angelo and Il teatro alla moda’, ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(fl 1772–98). Italian soprano. She was prima buffa in the Italian opera company at the King’s Theatre, London, in the 1786–7 season, when Burney found her singing ‘extremely graceful and pleasing’, and she substituted for Mara in Tarchi’s serious opera Virginia. She had been singing in Italy since ...

Article

Sybil Rosenfeld

( fl 1766–71). Italian stage designer . A native of Bologna, he was scene painter and machinist with his fellow townsman, Vincenzo Conti, at the King’s Theatre in London (from 1766 to 1771), though Conti did not operate after 1767–8. The most important operas for which Bigari provided scenery were J. C. Bach’s Carattaco (1767–8) and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (1769–70). He was also scenographer for Piccinni’s La buona figliuola maritata (1766) and Le contadine bizzarre (1768–9) and Guglielmi’s Ifigenia in Aulide (1767–8) and Le pazzie di Orlando (1770–71) as well as other operas and pasticcios.

The only extant design is for the pasticcio L’olimpiade (1769). Described as ‘The Temple of Olimpic Jove. A fire in the middle of the altar’, it is reproduced in Allardyce Nicoll’s The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the Eighteenth Century...

Article

Gabriella Biagi Ravenni

(b Lucca, Feb 5, 1742; d after 1798). Italian librettist, dancer and choreographer. A brother of Luigi Boccherini, he made his début as a dancer in Venice in 1757, but his major successes were achieved in Vienna between 1759 and 1767 (for example, Noverre’s revived Médée et Jason) and from 1769 to 1771. He used this success to begin a career as a librettist; he was a member of the Accademia dell’Arcadia (with the name of Argindo Bolimeo) and published a collection of sonnets. His libretto Turno, re dei Rutoli, a dramma tragico (Vienna, 1767), was never set to music, but reveals a progressive approach to drama; its commendation by Calzabigi, appended to the libretto, led to contact with Salieri, who set to music most of Boccherini’s subsequent librettos. These reveal a talent for pantomime and choreography, and handle theatrical conventions with ease. From 1772 to 1775...

Article

Marita P. McClymonds

(b Salò, Feb 26, 1752; d 1797 or later). Italian librettist . He joined those who were producing innovatory opera seria librettos for Venetian theatres in the 1790s. His handful of works represents a wide range of subject matter including plots taking their inspiration from earlier librettos (Seleuco, rè di Siria and Merope) and plots with exotic settings (Gl’indiani and Zaira). His Bianca de’ Rossi is an early example of an opera based on contemporary subject matter dealing with ordinary citizens, rather than historical figures or the nobility. Both Zaira and Bianca die tragically – Zaira at the hands of her lover, who then kills himself, and Bianca in the tomb of her husband, where she has buried herself. Such tragedies mark the end of a tradition more than a century old that proscribed unhappy endings and death on stage.

Botturini’s librettos contain multiple choruses, ensembles, scene-complexes and even dance (...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], Nov 15, 1735; d Berlin, Nov 10, 1799). German playwright. He fled his family business at the age of 18 and eventually joined an itinerant theatrical company. He was an indifferent actor but won considerable popularity as a playwright. In May 1772 he and his actress wife Charlotte, then both with the Seyler company in Weimar, saw the first German melodrama, Anton Schweitzer’s setting (now lost) of Rousseau’s Pygmalion, in translation. Using H. W. von Gerstenberg’s tragic cantata Ariadne auf Naxos as a model, Brandes prepared a dramatic scene in the new genre to display Charlotte’s abilities. Schweitzer temporized in setting Brandes’s text, and after the troupe moved to Gotha it was given to the court Kapellmeister there, Georg Benda. The première of Ariadne auf Naxos on 27 January 1775 was a resounding success, mainly because of Benda’s music and Charlotte’s acting. Brandes wrote a second melodrama for his wife while he was theatrical director at Dresden in ...