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Mary Cyr

[not Jean-Baptiste]

(b Lunel, 1710; d Paris, Dec 1, 1772). French haute-contre singer, music teacher, cellist and composer. His début in 1733 at the Paris Opéra, according to La Borde, was in the monologue of Pélée, ‘Ciel! en voyant ce temple redoutable’ from Act 3 of Collasse's Thétis et Pélée (1689). He soon joined the Italian troupe, performing in divertissements between the acts of operas. After three years he returned to the Opéra and took several minor roles between 1737 and 1745 in Rameau's works: Un Athlète in Castor et Pollux (1737), Un Songe in Dardanus (1739), Lycurgue in Fêtes d'Hébé (1739), and Tacmas (replacing the well-known haute-contre Tribou) in the third entrée of Les Indes galantes (1743 revival). In 1743 he sang the title role in the première of Boismortier's ballet-comique, Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse, with the famous soprano Marie Fel as Altisidore. Two years later he retired from the opera to devote himself to teaching and playing the cello. He became first cellist of the orchestra at the Comédie-Italienne in ...


Robert Fajon

(b Lyons, c1683; d Paris, March 2, 1760). French composer, teacher and opera singer. The main source of information about him is the Parfaict brothers’ Dictionnaire des théâtres, which states that Bouvard entered the Opéra at a very young age to sing soprano parts, with a ‘voice of such a range that its like had never been heard’. After his voice broke, when he was about 16, he spent a couple of years in Rome. He was back in Paris by February 1701, where his first (Italian) air appeared in a collection published by Ballard. In 1702, thanks to the patronage of M. de Francine, the Académie Royale de Musique performed his first opera, Médus, with great success, but in 1706 Cassandre, composed in collaboration with Bertin de La Doué, was a failure. Throughout the years 1701–11 Bouvard regularly published airs in Ballard’s collections, initially airs sérieux...


Michael F. Robinson

revised by Paologiovanni Maione

(b Arpino, March 12, 1687; d Naples, Oct 14, 1758). Italian male soprano and singing teacher. According to tradition he studied in his home town with M.T. Angelio, then moved to Naples to complete his training at the Conservatorio di S Onofrio. He was a singer in the Treasury of S Gennaro, Naples, from 1700 to 1707 and again from 1717 to 1736. In 1706 he was appointed singer of the Neapolitan royal chapel, a post he held throughout his career. From 1717 he was often absent from the choir for artistic reasons: on 17 November 1718 he requested three months' leave to sing at the Teatro Pace in Rome; on 16 December 1719 he set off for Messina, where he remained until May 1720; on 7 October he left for a stay of four months in Rome; and on 12 September 1724 he asked permission to ‘perform in the coming November and Carnival’ at the Teatro S Cassiano in Venice. In ...


Winton Dean

(b Aberdeen, c1692; d South Carolina, 1754/5). Scottish tenor, author and antiquary. He graduated at Aberdeen University, lived for a time by teaching languages and music, and then left for the Continent, spending some years in Italy, where presumably he was trained as a singer. He sang in C.A. Monza’s La principessa fedele at Messina in 1716 and Orlandini’s Lucio Papirio and Leo’s Sofonisba at Naples in 1717–18. He returned to Britain in 1719 and sang at four concerts at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre that winter. He was a member of the Royal Academy (at the King’s Theatre) during its first season (spring 1720), singing in Porta’s Numitore, Handel’s Radamisto (Tiridate) and Roseingrave’s arrangement of Domenico Scarlatti’s Narciso. He had a benefit at York Buildings on 6 February 1721 and another at the Little Haymarket Theatre on 26 January 1722. He was back at the King’s Theatre in ...


James R. Anthony

[‘La Rochois’]

(b Caen, c1658; d Paris, Oct 9, 1728). French soprano and singing teacher, commonly but incorrectly known as Marthe Le Rochois. She may have studied with Michel Lambert, who brought her to the attention of his son-in-law, Lully. She entered the Paris Opéra in 1678 and retired in 1698. Lully chose her to create the major female roles in his Persée, Amadis, Roland, Armide and Acis et Galathée; she was best known for her performance of Armide, the memory of which caused Le Cerf de la Viéville to ‘shiver’ with delight. After Lully’s death in 1687 she sang the main female roles in works by Collasse, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Desmarest, Marais, André Campra and A.C. Destouches. Titon du Tillet called her the ‘greatest actress and the best model for declamation to have appeared on the Stage’ (Le parnasse françois, Paris, 1732/R). He also wrote:...


Malcolm Boyd

revised by John Rosselli

(b Cesena, Aug 13, 1654; d Faenza, on or just after July 16, 1732). Italian castrato, teacher, composer and writer. He was the author of a highly influential treatise on singing: Opinioni de’ cantori antichi e moderni (1723). He was not the son of the Bologna composer G.F. Tosi. He sang in a Rome church, 1676–7, belonged to Milan Cathedral choir from 1681 until his dismissal for misconduct in 1685, made his one recorded appearance in opera at Reggio nell’Emilia in 1687, in Giovanni Varischino’s Odoacre, and was based in Genoa before going in 1693 to London, where he gave weekly public concerts and taught. From 1701 to 1723 he travelled extensively as musical and diplomatic agent of Emperor Joseph I and the Elector Palatine. From 1724 he again taught in London for some years; sometime before 1681 he had become a priest. A number of cantatas and arias are among his works....