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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b c1660; d London, March 23, 1739). English bass and actor. He entered the Duke’s Company as a boy and was a member of the Royal Private Musick from 1684. Cibber related that as a youth ‘fam’d for his Voice’ he sang before Charles II at Nell Gwynn’s lodgings. He was a soloist in Purcell’s court odes Sound the Trumpet (1687) and Celebrate this Festival (1693) and was Purcell’s principal stage bass from 1680, when he sang as Atticus in Theodosius (a part he last played in 1733). He took the important acting and singing role of Grimbald in King Arthur (1691) and played Cardenio in Don Quixote (1694), with the famous mad song ‘Let the dreadful engines’. As Lord Froth in William Congreve’s The Double Dealer he sang ‘Ancient Phyllis’, and Thesaurus Musicus (RISM 16947) states that he composed it. He remained on stage, acting his stock roles and singing a little, until a few months before his death, when the ...

Article

Neal Zaslaw

(b Lyons, late 17th century; d Paris, c1752). French singer, theorist, composer and actor. He was the head of a theatrical troupe that played in Lille between 1715 and 1722, at Brussels in 1716 and in Antwerp in 1717. The title-page of his Nouveau système calls him ‘formerly of the Royal Academies of Music of Lyons, Rouen, Marseilles, Lille, Brussels and Antwerp, and maître de musique of the cathedrals of St Omer and Tournai’. In 1730 he was married in Paris to Marie-Marguerite Lecouvreur, younger sister of the playwright. The dedication of Denis’ Nouvelle méthode to the ladies of St Cyr suggests that he may have been involved in the musico-theatrical training offered at that school. In the 1740s and early 1750s, and perhaps earlier, Denis ran a music school in Paris; the school continued after his death under his son-in-law Jouve.

Denis’ treatises enjoyed considerable longevity, one of them remaining in publishers’ catalogues until ...

Article

James R. Anthony

[l'aîné]

(b Verdun, Sept 9, 1687; d Gien, Aug 30, 1745). French composer, singer and actor. Son of the actor Jean Quinault (1656–1728) and brother of the singer and actress Marie-Anne-Catherine Quinault, he was the eldest of five children, all active in the theatre. Quinault began his acting career at the Comédie Française as Hippolytus in Racine's Phèdre on 6 May 1712. He retired on 22 March 1733 with a pension, but returned for three performances the following year. Although Voltaire chose him for leading roles in his tragedies, he was most applauded for comic roles. It was not uncommon for him to act and sing in a work for which he had composed the music. His gift for comic characterization is seen in the laughing recitative, ‘Enthousiasme de folie’, in M.A. Legrand's Impromptu de la folie (1725). He was elevated to the nobility by the regent, Philip d'Orléans....

Article

David Johnson

(b Straloch, Perthshire, Feb 13, 1721; d London, Feb 6, 1807). Scottish composer, flautist and musical benefactor. He studied law at Edinburgh University and in 1745 joined the British army as a lieutenant; he was active in Scotland in the Jacobite Rebellion (1745–6), in Flanders (1747–8) and in North America (1756–67). In 1770 he retired from the army, intending to settle in New York State, but this plan was upset by the War of Independence; he returned to the army in 1780 and was promoted to the rank of general in his old age.

Reid’s flute-playing was renowned in Edinburgh and London salons. He wrote 12 flute sonatas, the melodic invention and security of construction of which are remarkable for a part-time composer. Some are English in style (e.g. no.3 of the 1762 set, which ends with a fast 3/4 air similar to some of Purcell’s theatre songs), others Scottish (e.g. no.2 of the same set, the slow movement of which has gapped-scale melodies and Scotch snaps, and which ends with a 6/8 jig). His use of different regional styles was probably learnt from James Oswald, who, as well as being a prominent composer, was Reid’s publisher. Reid’s marches, dedicated to various army regiments, are vividly coloured by Scottish idioms. The most famous is the ...

Article

James R. Anthony

[‘Lelio’]

(b Modena, April 1, 1676; d Paris, Dec 6, 1753 ). Italian actor and author. He began his acting career at the age of 14 as a strolling player in Genoa. In 1698 he directed a theatre troupe for the Duke of Modena. He married the actress Elena Balletti, known as Flaminia, in 1706. In an attempt to reform the Italian theatre, he had translations of plays by Racine and Molière published.

In May 1716 Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, Regent of France, re-established the Comédie-Italienne as the Nouveau Théâtre Italien in Paris and installed Riccoboni and his troupe in the Hôtel de Bourgogne, its former home (Louis XIV had expelled its actors from France in 1697). The success of the first play in French at the Nouveau Théâtre Italien (Le naufrage au port à l'anglais by Jacques Autreau, music by Mouret) convinced Riccoboni that only works performed in French or partly in French would succeed. He retired in ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b c1706; d London, April 6, 1743). English tenor and actor. He was a treble at Cannons under Pepusch and then a popular singer, mainly in Rich's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields and Covent Garden, from 1724 until shortly before his death. He sang between the acts, in ballad operas and afterpieces, burlesques and pantomimes. Henry Carey wrote of him as one of the three leading English singers: ‘There's Beard, and there's Salway, and smart Kitty Clive’. He took the title role in Gay's ballad opera Achilles, where the hero is disguised as a woman throughout, had other petticoat roles, and in 1737 created the dragon-despatching Moore of Moore Hall in Lampe's parody of Italian opera, The Dragon of Wantley. In March 1731 he was Damon in the first public performance of Handel's Acis and Galatea, and he sang for Handel at Oxford in 1733.

BDA; LS...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

[Ned]

(b London, ? 1728; d London, Nov 1, 1776). English actor and singer. Creator of the roles of Mr Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer and Sir Anthony Absolute in The Rivals, he was described by Garrick as the greatest comic genius he had ever seen. He sang well enough to be given roles in several English operas. Dibdin wrote that ‘nothing upon earth could have been superior to his Midas’ (in the burletta of that name) and he was the first Justice Woodcock in ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(d London, 1777, will proved 4 July). Irish tenor and actor. From 1731 Stoppelaer sang leading roles on the London stage in numerous ballad opera afterpieces such as The Devil to Pay and Fielding’s The Lottery and The Intriguing Chambermaid. He had a small part in Handel’s Ariodante...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b ?Coventry, bap. ?April 12, 1737; d London, March 19, 1782). English tenor, actor and composer . He studied under William Savage and was still a boy when he ‘sung for the first time very well’ at Drury Lane as Puck in Queen Mab (December 1750). He created Thyrsis in Boyce’s The Shepherd’s Lottery the following year and went on to build up a repertory of minor acting and singing roles. His Savoy Chapel marriage in June 1755 to the singer Jane Poitier was declared invalid and Vernon had to give evidence against the officiating clergyman, who was transported; as a result Vernon was repeatedly hissed off stage the next season. After four years on the Dublin stage (1758–62) he remained at Drury Lane until a few months before his death. He was much admired in Shakespearean roles requiring singing, such as Amiens, Balthasar, Feste and Autolycus. He had leading roles in the all-sung English operas ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, June 5, 1698; d Dublin, June 5, 1744). English singer, actor and author . He acted in London from 1715, specializing in handsome daredevil roles such as Hotspur. Although untrained as a singer, he was given the role of Macheath in The Beggar’s Opera (1728) during rehearsals, when he was heard singing some of the airs behind the scenes. Chetwood wrote that after his success as Macheath he ‘follow’d Bacchus too ardently, insomuch that his Credit was often drown’d upon the Stage’. He sang in a few other ballad operas and held on to his roles until 1739. His career then collapsed and he died in poverty. His own ballad opera, The Quaker’s Opera, was performed in 1728.

BDA DNB (J. Knight) LS W. R. Chetwood: A General History of the Stage (London, 1749) The Thespian Dictionary (London, 1802, 2/1805) T. Gilliland: The Dramatic Mirror...