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Thomas Bauman

(b Graz, Nov 19, 1722; d Vienna, May 18, 1809). Austrian librettist. Educated in medicine at the University of Vienna, he made a name for himself as the inventor of the percussion method of diagnosing diseases of the chest cavity (1761). In 1775 he stood witness at the wedding of the court composer Antonio Salieri, for whom he wrote his only stage work, the libretto for ...

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Harris S. Saunders

(b Bergamo; d ?Turin, by aut. 1720). Italian librettist. In Bergamo, he was a member of the Accademia degli Arioni. By 1686 he had moved to Venice and in 1687 he moved to Turin, by which time he was an abbate. In 1692 or 1693 he resigned his order to marry the singer Diana Margherita Aureli; they settled in Turin in 1697.

In the preface to Angelica nel Cataj, Averara claims to have written over 40 librettos, a number yet to be confirmed by bibliographic sources. His documented librettos were produced for Venice, Turin and Milan. In Turin, he also acted as impresario for two seasons, 1688–9 and 1689–90. From the preface to Filindo, it is clear that he had died by autumn 1720

The fact that Averara drew many of his subjects from mythology reflects the preferences of the court of Savoy and the Spanish dependency of Milan. ...

Article

( fl 1724–35). Italian librettist . He was a curious kind of literary adventurer: his output was small, his propensity to borrow tacitly from others great, and his lack of respect for the truth staggering. His first libretto was Amore e sdegno (original title Ottone amante), performed at the Venetian theatre of S Cassiano in 1726 with music by Luigi Tavelli – but this is merely a new version of Silvani’s La moglie nemica. His Il regno galante (Giovanni Reali) was given at S Moisè, Venice, in 1727. In 1730 Boccardi dedicated to the Elector of Bavaria the libretto of an Adelaide which he claimed (falsely) was to be performed at the Haymarket Theatre with music by Handel. His statements on the title-page that he was a member of the Roman Arcadia and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London were equally untrue, and one must view with suspicion his description of himself as a ‘patrizio Torinese’, particularly since other sources make Mazara in Sicily his birthplace. Continuing his deceptions, he dedicated to the Elector of Saxony a ...

Article

(fl Paris, 1733–50). French composer. He pursued a military career, but was praised by Voltaire for daring, as an aristocrat, to present his own compositions. He wrote two stage works. The first, a ballet-héroïque L’empire de l’Amour (prol., 3, F.-A. P. de Moncrif), given at the Opéra on 14 April 1733, was revised even during the opening run and restaged on 31 May; a letter by Moncrif to the Mercure (May 1733) details the changes. The programme of the work, announced in the prologue on Naxos, was to show Love’s universal sovereign power. Three domains were chosen: Crete (with its mortals Phaedra, Ariadne and Theseus), Paphos (with the gods Cupid and Psyche) and the kingdom of Zélindor, king of the fire spirits. The last entrée should have come second, but a complicated scene change was required for the sumptuous ‘décoration si éclatante qu’à peine en peut-on soutenir la vue’. This was the vast interior of a richly decorated, galleried, domed and arcaded palace, the unprecedented effect of which was judged ‘particulier et bizarre’ (...

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Harris S. Saunders

(b Venice; fl 1709–10). Italian librettist . Briani wrote only two librettos, both for the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo, the most prestigious Venetian opera house of his day. They are in the elevated, serious style cultivated at this theatre, and their subjects are closely suited to Briani’s illustrious dedicatees. Both were set by Lotti. Il vincitor generoso (1709) is dedicated to King Frederick IV of Denmark, who visited Venice from 29 December 1708 until 9 March 1709. Although not based on history, it is set in and around Warsaw, which was neutral (as was Denmark during the War of the Spanish Succession). Isacio tiranno (1710), dedicated to a hero of that war, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, is loosely based on an episode involving Richard I as he passed through Cyprus on his way to the Holy Land. Although neither work was ever restaged in Italy, Paolo Rolli used ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, Feb 4, 1723; d London, Aug 4, 1792). English dramatist . ‘Gentleman Johnny’ Burgoyne, the English general forced to surrender to the Americans at Saratoga (1777), was the librettist of William Jackson’s only successful opera, The Lord of the Manor (1780), in the preface to which he advocated English ‘musical comedy’. Garrick’s staging of his first dramatic piece, ...

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Marita P. McClymonds

(b Casale Monferrato, 1730; d 1757 or later). Italian composer. He studied in Naples, then served as maestro di cappella for the cathedral at Asti from 1750 to 1753 and in 1757. He composed two three-act opere serie: Alessandro nell’Indie (1752, Alexandria), a setting of Metastasio, and the ...

Article

Harris S. Saunders

(b Padua; fl 1703). Italian librettist . He is known to have written only one libretto, Gli amanti generosi (Vinaccesi, 1703). He originally conceived the work as a spoken tragedy and adapted it for the operatic stage later, lightening the serious tone and inserting arias, often outside their proper niche. Although two characters (Artaxerxes I and his son Darius II) are historical, the plot is fictional. The castrato Nicolo Grimaldi (‘Nicolini’), who sang Hydaspes in all restagings of the work, probably witnessed the original production. G. Convò and Stampiglia revised Gli amanti generosi for the Teatro S Bartolomeo, Naples, in 1705, with music by Francesco Mancini, and Nicolini revised this setting for a production in 1710 at the Haymarket, London, as Idaspe fedele or Hydaspes. The work was last performed in 1730 as Idaspe at the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo with music by Riccardo Broschi.

Giovanni Pietro should not be confused with Giovanni Battista [Giambattista] Candi, also from Padua, who may have been his brother. He likewise wrote only one libretto, as it happens, for the same Venetian theatre: ...

Article

Robert Lamar Weaver

(b Tuscany, c1730; d after 1792). Italian librettist and stage director. He was one of two poets at the Teatro del Cocomero in Florence around 1755, a position requiring him to alter and add to librettos by other authors, notably Goldoni. His I matrimoni in maschera (1763) and L’amore industrioso (1765), comic operas composed by G. M. Rutini, established the reputations of both men in Italy and can be regarded as Casorri’s masterpieces. He was an active translator into Italian of French farces, the most successful being Il disertore, originally by L. S. Mercier and set to music by Giuseppe Gazzaniga, which probably owed its popularity to its unswerving morality and optimism. Casorri wrote two opera seria librettos, Attalo, re di Bitinia (1780) and Mesenzio, re d’Etruria, the latter set by the young Cherubini in 1782; both are solemn and noble, though conventional. In the 1790s Casorri directed a Tuscan prose company which performed in the Palla a Corda and the Piazza Vecchia theatres. His principal composer there was Neri Bondi; Casorri wrote and translated intermezzos and farces for the company to perform....

Article

Richard Taruskin

[née Sophie Auguste Fredericke von Anhalt-Zerbst]

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], 21 April/May 2, 1729; d Tsarskoye Selo, 6/Nov 17, 1796). Empress of Russia. She acceded in 1762 following a palace coup against her husband Peter III, and became known as ‘Catherine the Great’. Continuing the policy of her predecessors, the empresses Anna (reigned 1730–40) and Elizabeth (1741–61), she maintained a court opera theatre staffed by Italians, personally patronizing Cimarosa, Paisiello, Galuppi and Sarti, as well as her special favourite, the italianized Spaniard Martín y Soler. She also patronized comic opera in the vernacular and encouraged native talent to apply itself to this genre. Among the talents she nurtured was her own very modest one as a dramatist, which she exercised, as she put it to a friend, for the sake of relaxation and distraction from affairs of state. With the assistance of two literary secretaries, Ivan Yelagin and Alexander Khrapovitsky, she wrote three volumes of Russian plays and a fourth in French....

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Patricia Lewy Gidwitz

(b Brescia, Dec 1712; d Brescia, Aug 1785). Italian librettist. After a brief military career Chiari settled in Venice in 1746, where he wrote comedies, romanze and polemics under the Arcadian name of Egerindo Criptonide. In 1749 he joined the S Samuele theatre where he wrote for the Imer-Casali company of commedia dell’arte players; in 1753 he took a similar post at the S Angelo, which Goldoni had recently abandoned for the competing theatre, the S Luca. Chiari’s blatant parodies of Goldoni aroused fury, and the literary war between the two marked the apogee of Chiari’s fame. In summer 1754 Chiari went to Modena as court poet to Francesco III. A return to the Venetian stage in 1760 was not a success, and it was at this point that he took to writing opera librettos, usually for Galuppi and Traetta. His most popular included Il marchese villano, set by Galuppi and later by Paisiello, Piccinni, Nasolini and others under a variety of titles, and ...

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Patricia Lewy Gidwitz

(fl 1730s). Italian librettist. Little is known about his life except that he was active in Turin and was associated with the Teatro Capranica in Rome in the 1730s; it is uncertain whether he was house poet there or whether his employment was on a temporary basis. An early libretto, Germanico in Germania for Porpora (1732), bears his name, a rare distinction; this text was also set by Bernasconi (1744) and Carlo Monza (1770). An anonymous libretto for Bernardino Ottani’s Arminio (1781) has also been ascribed to him.

E. Greppi and A. Giulini, eds.: Carteggio di Pietro e di Alessandro Verri, 2 (Milan, 1910), 95; iii (1910), 156; xi (1940), 215 E. Celani: ‘Musica e musicisti in Roma (1750–1850)’, RMI, 18 (1911), 1–63 G. Pavan: ‘Saggio di cronistoria del teatro musicale romano: il teatro Capranica’, RMI, 29 (1922), 425–44 G. Papini...

Article

Marita P. McClymonds

( fl Naples, 1790s). Italian poet . His principal claim to fame is an updated version of Ines de Castro, which Cosimo Giotti had written for Florence with music by Gaetano Andreozzi in 1783. In his rewritten version of 1794 De Santis provided Francesco Bianchi with multiple ensembles – an introductory quintet, several duets, and two ensemble finales (a trio and a sextet) – newly fashionable in ...

Article

Jack Sage

[Duran, José ]

(b ? Barcelona; d ?Barcelona, after 1791). Catalan composer . He was music master to the Marquéz de los Vélez from about 1755 and probably also maestro de capilla of Barcelona Cathedral. He studied in Naples, and possibly became a maestro di cappella there. His unashamed preference for Italian styles over Catalan or Spanish in his operas and church music precipitated a celebrated polemic about Spanish traditions, notably with the maestro de capilla of Toledo Cathedral, Jaime Casellas. In 1760 in Barcelona he gave the first performance of his opera Antígona, followed in 1762 by Temístocles, both to librettos (now in E-Bbc ) by Metastasio.

LaborD E. Cotarelo y Mori: Orígenes y establecimiento de la Ópera en España hasta 1800 (Madrid, 1917), 233, 240–41 J. Subirá: La Ópera en los teatros de Barcelona, 1 (Barcelona, 1946), 30, 37 A. Martín Moreno: Historia de la muśsica española, iv: Siglo XVIII (Madrid, 1985), 94–5, 155–6, 372, 429...

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Dale E. Monson

[Ageo Liteo ]

(b ?Venice; dc 1780). Italian librettist . Son of Baldassare Galuppi, he is mentioned only in the composer’s will (16 June 1780) where he is named as recently deceased. For a brief period in the 1760s he was active in Venice, writing the librettos for two of Baldassare’s most successful operas, ...

Article

Bryan Martin

( fl Rome, 1763–71). Italian librettist . He was admitted to the Arcadian Academy during the custodianship of Morei (1743–66), with the Arcadian name Feresio Niceno; in the records he is referred to as ‘abate’. Since membership was not permitted to those under the age of 24, he must have been born before ...

Article

Kurt Markstrom

[?Luigi, ?Alvise ]

(b Venice; fl 1729–c1735). Italian librettist . The preface to Belmira in Creta, set to music by Antonio Galeazzi and produced at the Teatro S Moisè, Venice, in 1729, indicates that this was his first libretto and links him with the Accademia dell’ Arcadia in Rome. Belmira was arranged as a pasticcio by Porpora for London in 1734. Also attributed to Girolamo Giusti is L’inganno scoperto, performed at the Teatro S Angelo in 1735. Quadrio (1744) attributed to him the intermezzo Ginestra e Lichetto and the opera Motezuma (set by Vivaldi, 1733), but later sources contradict this. Confusion has arisen with another Venetian writer named Giusti (Luigi or Alvise), an aristocrat influenced by Zeno. Luigi produced librettos for Galuppi’s Argenide and possibly Vivaldi’s Motezuma at the Teatro S Angelo in 1733; in the late 1730s he left Venice to pursue an administrative career in Milan and Mantua, entering the priesthood in ...

Article

Jeremy Hayes, Bruce Alan Brown, Max Loppert and Winton Dean

(b Erasbach, nr Berching, Upper Palatinate, July 2, 1714; d Vienna, Nov 15, 1787). Bohemian-Austrian composer of Italian and French opera, a leading figure in opera of the second half of the 18th century, and the person chiefly credited with the ‘reform’ of opera after the age of Metastasian opera seria.

Jeremy Hayes

Gluck’s interest in music was evident from an early age. He studied the violin, the cello and singing, but his father was opposed to his becoming a professional musician and wanted him to follow his own career as a forester. To escape this, Gluck ran away from home at the age of 13 or 14 and went to Prague, earning his living on the way by singing and playing the jew’s harp (as he later told the painter Christian von Mannlich). Although he was involved in a great deal of music-making in the Bohemian capital, and for a time was organist at the Tyn Church, he does not appear to have received any systematic musical education there and was largely self-taught. An early influence must have been the Prague opera house, where Italian opera was popular: Vivaldi, Albinoni and Lolli were among the composers whose works were most often performed there in the first half of the 18th century....

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Thomas Bauman

(b Vienna, Sept 27, 1735; d Vienna, July 30, 1764). German playwright. He served as a secretary in the Viennese municipal court during his short life, and wrote a series of successful plays that developed a distinctively Viennese brand of written comedy out of local improvisatory traditions. His lone musical text, the three-act Zauberlustspiel ...

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Marita P. McClymonds

( fl Venice, 1773–86). Italian librettist . He wrote comic opera librettos for Venetian theatres between 1773 and 1786 and one work, La cameriera per amore, for Turin in 1774. Although half of his librettos received no revivals or additional settings, many of the rest were celebrated works. La frascatana, set by Paisiello, was the composer’s most frequently performed work, as were Giannina e Bernardone (Cimarosa) and La finta principessa (Alessandri). Gazzaniga counted his setting of La moglie capricciosa among his most successful, as did Anfossi his I viaggiatori felici. The latter, as well as Anfossi’s Le gelosie fortunate, were selected for revivals at Eszterháza. Livigni’s works, typical of drammi giocosi of the time, were sophisticated pieces dealing with gentry and their servants – ordinary people – in amorous imbroglios and intrigues. I viaggiatori felice introduces an Englishman and a Spaniard into the action, while L’innocente fortunata involves Spaniards and Bretons; Il convito...