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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 ...

Article

Roland J. Vázquez

(de)

(b Portugal, 1836; d Madrid, May 21, 1886). Spanish impresario, actor and singer. He first became popular in comic roles at theTeatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid. In 1866 he formed his own company, the Bufos Madrileños, modelled on Offenbach’s Bouffes-Parisiens. It was an instant success. By 1870 he had begun a second company in Barcelona. In addition to operettas by Offenbach and Lecocq, Arderíus staged new works by Spanish composers, including F. A. Barbieri and P. J. E. Arrieta.The dance routines and brief costumes of the female chorus were indispensable to the appeal of the Bufos, and were among the features that incited critics to condemn the genre as frivolous and a hindrance to the development of serious opera in Spanish. By the beginning of 1873 the company’s popularity had ended, and Arderíus had become director at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. Thereafter he championed the cause of national opera, attempting, without success, to launch a Spanish opera series in ...

Article

Thomas Kaufman

(b Naples, 1873; d Bogotà, Aug 28, 1935). Italian impresario and cellist . He joined the orchestra of an Italian opera company touring the Balkans in 1890, and also performed in Egypt, but decided to try his hand as an impresario in 1895, giving performances in Alexandria (Alhambra Theatre) during August and September and in Cairo (Ezbekieh Gardens) for the next two months. The company was joined in Cairo by the young and not yet famous Enrico Caruso, who sang in five operas. Bracale was again impresario in Cairo, but at the much more important Khedivial theatre from 1908 to 1912; here he continued his practice of hiring outstanding young singers (Amelita Galli-Curci, Hipolito Lazaro) before they became famous. Salomea Krusceniski, Eugenia Burzio, Carmen Melis, Antonio Magini-Coletti and Eugenio Giraldoni also sang for him during these years. In 1912 he put on Aida at the Pyramids.

Bracale’s Latin-American activities began in ...

Article

(b New York, July 12, 1926; d Rancho Mirage, CA, Dec 15, 2002). American conductor and administrator. He studied music theory and composition at Yale and later at Columbia University, and then worked as accompanist for Columbia Opera Workshop and American Theatre Wing. In 1956 he founded the Santa Fe Opera, where he conducted a wide repertory, including many works by Richard Strauss; he also conducted in other cities in the USA and Canada. He was president emeritus of the Manhattan School of Music, and was president of Opera America, ...

Article

James May

(Mario Giulio)

(b Milan, July 5, 1943). Italian bass-baritone and director resident in South Africa. He studied the piano and singing privately while reading science at the University of Cape Town. His singing teachers were Albina Bini, Adelheid Armhold and Frederick Dalberg in Cape Town and, in 1965–6, Carlo Tagliabue and Anna Pistolesi in Milan. He made his début as Kecal (The Bartered Bride) in Cape Town in 1965. Gobbato is best known for buffo roles such as Dr Bartolo (Il barbiere), Don Pasquale and Figaro (Il barbiere and Figaro); he was awarded the first Nederburg Prize for opera in 1971 for his portrayal of Papageno. He was resident producer at the Nico Malan Opera House in Cape Town, 1976–81, and head of the opera school of the University of Cape Town, 1982–8. In 1989 he was appointed director of opera for the Cape Performing Arts Board. He has directed – mainly from the Italian repertory – for all the arts councils in South Africa....

Article

(b Modena, c 1700; d Naples, ?1774). Italian dancer, choreographer and impresario . He spent the early part of his career in Venice, where he created ballets for more than 40 operas, 1720–45. His name first appears as a choreographer for the 1720 Ascension season (Orlandini’s Griselda) at the Teatro S Samuele, here he worked for 11 Ascension seasons (later productions included works by Porpora, Albinoni and Galuppi, and Gluck’s Demetrio in 1742). He also choreographed at S Giovanni Grisostomo (24 operas, 1722–45, including Porpora’s Siface, Meride e Selinunte, Rosbale and Statira, and Hasse’s Alessandro nell’Indie and Semiramide riconosciuta) and at S Angelo, S Cassiano, and S Moisè. At the Teatro Falcone in Genoa (1731) and the Regio Ducal Teatro in Milan (1732–3, Lampugnani’s Candace; 1737–40, works by Bernasconi, Brivio and Leo) he worked with his wife Maria, a Venetian ballerina. While in Milan Goldoni, who knew the couple from Venice, spent an evening at their home, in his ...

Article

Frank Merkling

(b Frankfurt, Feb 18, 1902; d San Diego, ca, Sept 14, 1975). American conductor and administrator of German birth. He studied composition with Schoenberg in Vienna before gaining practical experience as a conductor in Germany and Switzerland and at the Vienna Volksoper. In 1938, just before the Anschluss, he left Austria for the USA, and became an American citizen in ...

Article

Harold Rosenthal

(b Cochem, Dec 12, 1881; d Berlin, April 17, 1959). German soprano and director. She studied at the Strasbourg Conservatory (1902–5), becoming an ‘apprentice’ at the Strasbourg Opera and making her début in 1903 as an offstage priestess in Aida. She was engaged at Rostock (1906–8), Breslau (1908–13), and, from 1913, at the Berlin Hofoper (later Staatsoper), remaining a member of the ensemble until 1932. In 1922 she made her Metropolitan début in the title role of Max von Schillings’s Mona Lisa. The next year she married the composer and sang again at the Metropolitan, as Elsa, Isolde – a role in which she was admired for her stage presence but considered deficient in range and power – and Kundry. She sang Senta at Bayreuth in 1914 (as Barbara Mikley-Kemp) and Kundry from 1924 to 1927. In 1938–9 she directed Von Schillings’s Ingwelde and ...

Article

[Francis]

(b ?Paris, 1799; d Soisy-sous-Etiolles, Corbeil, nr Paris, Sept 25, 1841). French actor and impresario. He came from a theatrical family; his father, Jacques François Laporte (1775–1841), was the celebrated Harlequin of the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris for over 30 years. The younger Laporte also appeared in comic French roles at the Vaudeville, 1822–6, and in Brussels (1823) and London (1824), making his début on the English stage at Drury Lane in November 1826. The following year he joined the Haymarket company and by the beginning of 1828 was involved with one Laurent, the manager of the Italian opera in Paris, in a scheme to run the King’s Theatre, London. Laurent soon withdrew and Laporte actively managed the theatre for the next 13 years (apart from the 1832 season, when Monck Mason was in charge and Laporte himself was lessee of Covent Garden)....

Article

Bonnie Elizabeth Fleming

(b Harrisburg, PA, March 2, 1921). American singing actress, producer, stage director, and teacher. Possessing a wide range of performing skills, she is known for undertaking challenging operatic roles such as Birdie and Regina in Mark Blitzstein’s Regina (1949, 1953, and 1958) and Lizzie in Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden (1965). She worked on Broadway, in light opera, on radio and television, and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Lewis attended Penn State University and was encouraged by its Glee Club director to audition for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she went on to study with Emilio de Gogorza. After her teacher suddenly left the Institute, Lewis auditioned and made her debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company at the age of 19 in the role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. A remarkably quick study, Lewis absorbed music and words in any language almost on the spot, a gift to which she attributes most of her early success. In ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b 1734/5; d Edinburgh, Aug 14, 1804). English tenor, actor and theatre manager . As a boy he sang at the London fairs and then had three seasons at Drury Lane (1749–52), creating the role of Palaemon in Boyce’s The Chaplet. His adult singing career was principally at Covent Garden, where he appeared every year from 1757 to 1784. O’Keeffe remembered him as ‘tall and well made’ and Hugh Kelly admired his ‘tender strain, so delicately clear’. He sang many romantic leading roles in English operas, retaining most of them until the early 1780s. He was the first Thomas in Love in a Village, Lord Aimsworth in The Maid of the Mill, Tom in Tom Jones and Ferdinand in The Duenna. Mattocks often sang with his wife, formerly Isabella Hallam, with whom he had eloped in 1765. He managed summer seasons in the provinces for many years and in ...

Article

Bruce Carr

(Heinrich Anton Magnus)

(b Hamburg, June 13, 1843; d New York, Dec 4, 1897). American conductor, impresario and composer of German birth. He went to New York in 1854, and studied the violin and piano; at the age of 16 he became leader of the Stadt Theater orchestra in New York. After a season in Milwaukee (1864–5) he returned to New York as chorus master at the Stadt Theater, where Karl Anschütz was trying to establish a German opera. In 1867 he took over as director for four seasons, during the last of which he brought a troupe from Europe to perform several German works, including Lohengrin in its first American production (3 April 1871). In 1872, with Carl Rosa and the tenor Theodor Wachtel, he presented a season of Italian opera at the Academy of Music, and from 1872 to 1874 he was manager of the Germania Theatre. Wachtel returned to the Academy in ...

Article

(b England, 1827; d Richmond, va, Jan 14, 1882). American impresario and singer. Taken to the USA at an early age and adopted by the actor Peter Richings, she began her musical career as a concert pianist. She later studied singing and made her operatic début at the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, as Marie in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment (9 February 1852). She performed as pianist and singer in the Richings Opera Company, which her father had formed in 1859, and became its director on his retirement in 1867. In the same year she married Peter Bernard, a tenor in the troupe, which, under the name Richings-Bernard Company, toured the USA extensively. In 1870 they joined forces briefly with Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa, their chief rival, as the Caroline Richings-Bernard Grand Opera Combination; but Clara Kellogg lured most of the good singers away and the venture failed financially....

Article

Hugh Canning

(b Geneva, Aug 2, 1942). Swiss actor and director . He studied at the University of Geneva and was trained as an actor with François Simon and as a director at the Berliner Ensemble, in East Berlin. He worked first as an actor and director at the Atelier de Genève, which he founded in 1963. From 1975 to 1981 he was director of the Théâtre de Carouge. Since 1981 he has been a freelance opera and theatre director. His first important production was The Turn of the Screw at Geneva (1981) and his productions since have included Death in Venice (Scottish Opera and Geneva, 1983), La traviata for Opera North (1985, Leeds), Der Ring des Nibelungen (1985–7, Seattle), Cardillac (1988, Berne), Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1989, Seattle) and Parsifal (1989, Berne). His work is notable for its narrative clarity and sober neo-classicism....

Article

Boris Semeonoff

(b 18/July 30, 1877; d Moscow, March 5, 1952). Russian bass-baritone and opera director . After early musical education in Saratov, he went to study law in Moscow, where he had lessons in singing from Camillo Everardi and Mattia Battistini and in piano from Serge Rachmaninoff . He made his début in 1901 at the Moscow Private Opera, spent two years at the Tbilisi Opera, and returned to Moscow in 1905 as leading soloist with Zimin’s opera company, where he created the roles of Dodon (The Golden Cockerel, 1909) and Suleyman in Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Izmena (‘The Betrayal’, 1910). His repertory spanned almost the entire range of bass and baritone parts, from the Miller (Rusalka) and Kochubey (Mazepa) to Escamillo and Amonasro; in Boris Godunov he sang Varlaam and Rangoni, as well as the title role. He gave up singing in 1916 and devoted his time to organizing opera and teaching in provincial cities. From ...