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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Genoa, 1821; d Milan, 1896). Italian mezzo-soprano . She studied with her father, the composer and teacher Natale Abbadia, making her début in 1836 at Sassari. In Vienna she sang Corilla in Donizetti’s Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (1840). At La Scala she created Giulietta in Verdi’s ...

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J.B. Steane

(b Lemberg [now L’viv], July 14, 1872; d Weidling, nr Vienna, Sept 1, 1932). Polish soprano of Austrian parentage . She first appeared as a child prodigy, singing operatic arias in her native town. At 13 she entered the Vienna Conservatory; she later studied in Milan, becoming highly proficient in florid singing while developing a voice of considerable power. She made her début (1889) in La sonnambula at the Vienna Opera. In the Munich première of Falstaff she sang Mrs Ford, and at Dresden in 1902 sang Tosca in the opera’s German première. She retired in 1908, having sung some 70 operatic roles, ranging from coloratura parts such as the Queen of Night and Lucia to dramatic roles including Sieglinde and Venus. A few rare gramophone records made in 1902 display some dubious stylistic qualities along with an extraordinary fluency in decorative work and a warm, limpid tone characteristic of the Lamperti school....

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Anna Amalie Abert

(b Kochowitz, nr Leitmeritz, Bohemia, Sept 20, 1832; d Stuttgart, April 1, 1915). Bohemian composer. After studying at the Prague Conservatory, he was engaged in 1853 as a double-bass player at the Stuttgart Hofkapelle where he then served as Kapellmeister from 1867 to 1888. Between 1852 and 1894 he composed orchestral and chamber music in addition to sacred and secular vocal works. He was most important in the field of operatic composition, his six operas winning him acclaim as one of the masters between Meyerbeer and Wagner. His first opera, Anna von Landscron (1858), was firmly rooted in the German Romantic opera tradition. However König Enzio, produced four years later, clearly showed the influence of French grand opera, which the composer had studied first-hand during a long visit to Paris. He was especially successful in 1866 with his third opera, Astorga, whose less dramatic text allowed scope for his primarily lyrical style to develop. In ...

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Stanley Sadie

English town on the Thames, near Oxford. It was an important centre for Handel revivals in the 1960s and 70s. Performances, modest in scale but noted for their spirit and enthusiasm, were given in the Unicorn Theatre (built in the granary of the 14th-century abbey) and twice in a civic hall, were directed and translated by Alan Kitching and were conducted and costumed (until her death in 1968) by Frances Kitching. Given by amateurs and advanced students until 1970, when they became professional, they began with Orlando in 1959; then followed, from 1961 to 1964, Partenope, Floridante, Agrippina and Admeto, and from 1966 to 1974 Poro, Giustino, Flavio, Sosarme, Il pastor fido, Arminio, Tolomeo and Arianna in Creta (Lotario was also given by the company, at Henley, in 1975). Most were modern premières. Several performances were repeated elsewhere, notably three at the City of London Festival.

A. Kitching...

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Stanley Sadie

Masque or serenata in one (later two) acts by George Frideric Handel to words by John Gay and others; Cannons, summer 1718 (revised version in three acts, incorporating Italian words by Nicola Giuvo, London, King’s Theatre, 10 June 1732).

During the period 1717–20 Handel spent much of his time at Cannons, the seat of James Brydges, Earl of Carnarvon (later Duke of Chandos), at Edgware, a short distance north-west of London. As resident composer, he supplied his patron with church music, principally anthems, and two dramatic works, Esther (the first English oratorio) and Acis and Galatea, which has variously been described as a serenata, a masque, a pastoral or pastoral opera, a ‘little opera’ (in a letter while it was being written), an entertainment and even (incorrectly) an oratorio. Whether or not it was originally fully staged, given in some kind of stylized semi-dramatic form or simply performed as a concert work is uncertain; local tradition holds that it was given in the open air on the terraces overlooking the garden (the recent discovery of piping to supply an old fountain, suitable for the closing scene, might fancifully be invoked as support). It was performed on an unknown date, probably during the summer, in ...

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Jürg Stenzl

(b Bucharest, Oct 18, 1909; d Wabern, nr Berne, March 9, 1960). Swiss conductor . After studying at the Royal Academy in Bucharest and the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, he became Kapellmeister at the Düsseldorf Opera House, and in 1932 chief Kapellmeister and opera director at the German Theatre in Brno. He was chief Kapellmeister at the Berne Municipal Theatre (...

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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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Julian Budden

(b Verona, Nov 4, 1878; d Milan, Oct 12, 1946). Italian playwright, librettist and journalist . After graduating in law at the University of Padua he devoted himself to literature, first as theatre critic of the Arena (Verona), then as playwright. His first stage work was the one-act comedy I fioi di Goldoni in Venetian dialect; thereafter he proved remarkably successful in a comic-sentimental vein with such plays as Una capanna e il tuo cuore (1913), Capelli bianchi (1915), Felicità Colombo (1935) and its sequel Nonna Felicità (1936). In 1911 he made the acquaintance of Giulio Ricordi, head of the publishing firm, of whom he left a valuable memoir in his Giulio Ricordi e i suoi musicisti (Milan, 1933, 2/1945 as Giulio Ricordi, amico dei musicisti). It was Ricordi who first put him in touch with Puccini, who briefly considered setting his Spanish-derived libretto ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Bristol, Dec 20, 1928; d Norwich, April 8, 1996). English bass . He was a chorister at Worcester Cathedral and later became an actor. After singing in the D’Oyly Carte Opera chorus, from 1953 to 1969 he was principal bass of the company. In 1963 he co-founded ‘G&S for All’, with whom he toured extensively in Australia and the USA. In 1983 he sang the Mikado in Chicago, returning for Baron Mirko Zeta and the Theatre Director/Banker (Lulu). He made his Covent Garden début in 1983 as a Frontier Guard (Boris Godunov), and later sang Quince and Frank. For the ENO (1985–92) he has sung Dikoj (Kát’a Kabanová), Mozart’s Bartolo, and Pooh-Bah; for the WNO (1985–7) his roles included Monterone and Rossini’s Bartolo. He also appeared at Glyndebourne (Dikoj, Quince and Swallow), Amsterdam, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Geneva. In ...

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Lesley A. Wright

[Colombeau, Jules-Adenis]

(b Paris, June 28, 1823; d Paris, Jan 1900). French playwright and librettist. He studied at the Collège Bourbon (Lycée Condorcet) and began his career as a dramatist with Le fils du bonnetier (1841), a vaudeville written with Ludger Berton. For the next decade, however, he was employed in business and on the editorial staff of the daily newspaper Le corsaire (1847–9). He began writing more vaudevilles and comedies in the 1850s, usually in collaboration with others. He was a member of the Société des Gens de Lettres and secretary of the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques.

From 1856 onwards Adenis, in collaboration or alone, produced the librettos for more than two dozen opéras comiques, opérettes and opéras. He worked with Bizet, also a good friend, and with Guiraud and Massenet early in their careers. Contemporary critics occasionally judged his work harshly but he seems to have been generally regarded as competent and dependable, if unoriginal. His sons Eugène and Édouard also wrote plays and librettos; their work is sometimes confused with that of their father....

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Dale E. Monson

Libretto subject used chiefly in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its principal source is Virgil’s Aeneid. Operas on the subject appear under various titles including Enea nel Lazio, Enea in Italia and Enea e Lavinia, and in French as Enée et Lavinie.

In opera Aeneas is most widely known for his desertion of Dido (particularly in Nahum Tate’s poetry for Purcell in 1689, in Metastasio’s Didone abbandonata, found in numerous 18th-century settings, and in Berlioz’s Les Troyens) in order to appease the gods and fulfil his destiny, the founding of the Roman empire. Homer, and later Cato and Virgil, recounted the many trials and disasters to which Aeneas was subjected after the fall of his native Troy. In Virgil’s version of the episode in Latium, which follows Cato’s account, Aeneas arrives in Italy (having left Carthage and Dido) and is offered, by oracular decree, both the kingdom and the hand of King Latinus’s only daughter, Lavinia. Turnus, a foreign prince to whom these favours have previously been promised, wages a jealous war with his Rutolian forces against the king. Aeneas leads the king’s army to victory, however, and Turnus is slain. This account was the basis for numerous librettos of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 17th century Bussani’s libretto, ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

[Agniez, Louis-Ferdinand-Léopold]

(b Erpent, Namur, July 17, 1833; d London, Feb 2, 1875). Belgian bass and composer. He studied in Brussels where his opera Hermold le Normand was performed at the Théâtre de la Monnaie on 16 March 1858. After a period of study in Paris he toured Germany and the Netherlands with Merelli’s Italian company, then in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Verdello, Bergamo, Nov 23, 1882; d Buenos Aires, July 6, 1954). Italian soprano . She studied in Milan and made her début in 1903 at Pavia as Fedora. She sang throughout Europe, in South America and in Russia. After an engagement at the Manhattan Opera House, New York (...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Verona, July 21, 1874; d Abington, pa , July 26, 1951). Italian tenor . He made his début in 1895 at Nuovi Ligure. In 1897, after singing Rodolfo for the first time at Cagliari, he took the role in the American première of La bohème at Los Angeles and in the New York première (...

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Emilio Casares

(b Bilbao, Aug 10, 1838; d Mendoza, Argentina, July 19, 1901). Spanish composer. He studied in Madrid, Paris, and then Milan, where he was a pupil of Lauro Rossi. He held conducting posts in Bilbao and Madrid before settling in Buenos Aires in 1876, where he conducted at the Teatro de la Opera. He sometimes acted as impresario, and his final appointment was as director of the National Conservatory of Music.

Most of Aguirre’s music is lost, including the opera Gli amanti di Teruel (first performed at the Teatro Principal in Valencia on 16 December 1865). With an Italian text (by Rosario Zapater) and cast with Italian singers, the opera reflected the domination of Italian opera in Spain at the time. It was favourably received in the press, but comparisons made with Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti suggest it was of no great originality. Aguirre wrote two other operas, ...

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David Cummings

(b Stockholm, Aug 1, 1942). Swedish tenor . He studied at the Stockholm Opera School with Erik Saedén, Aksel Schiøtz and Max Lorenz. From 1969 he has appeared at the Royal Opera, Stockholm, notably in works by Mozart and Rossini (début as Tamino). At Drottningholm he has sung in many revivals of Baroque operas. He left Stockholm in ...

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David Cummings

(Karlovich )

(b S. Ukraine, 15/May 27, 1846; d Moscow, Feb 17, 1919). Ukrainian conductor . He studied at the St Petersburg Conservatory with Anton Rubinstein and Nikolay Zaremba. He was chorus master at the Kiev Opera from 1868 and conducted Tchaikovsky’s Oprichnik there shortly after its St Petersburg première in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Whitstable, Feb 22, 1910; d Croydon, Jan 12, 1982). English bass . After studying with Roy Henderson, he was engaged at Sadler’s Wells Opera (1947–52), singing Colline, Don Basilio, Zuniga, Simone (Gianni Schicchi), Alfio, the Grand Inquisitor, the Commendatore, and Cancian (I quatro rusteghi...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Torre del Greco, Naples, Aug 13, 1912; d Rome, June 11, 2005). Italian tenor . He studied in Rome and made his début in 1942 at La Fenice as Ramiro in La Cenerentola. After touring in Hungary and Germany, he was engaged by the S Carlo and sang with that company at Covent Garden in ...

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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 ...