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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

(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

Nicole Wild

(d Paris, 20/Aug 30, 1712). French administrator . He was granted the licence of the Opéra (Académie Royale de Musique) by a deed signed on 5 October 1704, when the current managers, Jean-Nicolas de Francine and Hyacinthe de Gauréault Dumont, became overwhelmed by debt. In exchange the new manager undertook to pay salaries, pensions, the entertainment tax and all the debts of the Opéra. He was also to pay an annual pension of 75 000 livres to Francine and one of 25 000 livres to Dumont. Despite his financial experience, Guyenet failed. In eight years he burdened the Opéra with debt, leaving liabilities in the region of 400 000 livres. He ruined his family and his own health. Hounded by his creditors, he took refuge in his theatre at the Palais-Royal and died there. On his death his creditors, represented by their delegates, the receivers, negotiated with Francine and Dumont....

Article

John A. Rice

(b Vienna, March 13, 1741; d Vienna, Feb 20, 1790). Holy Roman Emperor, Archduke of Austria, first son of Maria Theresa and Francis of Lorraine. As a patron of music and supervisor of the court theatres in Vienna, he helped to shape the city’s operatic life. During the first part of his long reign he shared power with Maria Theresa, but even before her death in 1780 he exercised considerable influence over operatic policy. Especially fond of the young Antonio Salieri, Joseph supported him with commissions and recommendations from 1770 onwards.

In the mid-1770s Joseph dismissed the impresario who was struggling to present Italian opera in the court theatres, and transformed the Burgtheater into a national theatre for the performance of spoken plays in German. In 1778 he organized a troupe of German singers to perform Singspiels there and it was for this troupe that Mozart wrote Die Entführung aus dem Serail...

Article

Carole Taylor

[Sackville, Charles; later 2nd Duke of Dorset]

(b London, Feb 6, 1711; d London, Jan 6, 1769). English impresario . He made his first European ‘grand tour’, 1731–3, and undertook a second continental visit, 1737–8. He is best known as the extravagant young aristocrat who took up the direction of Italian opera at the King’s Theatre in 1739 just when Handel dropped the form altogether. Under his direction, Galuppi, Lampugnani and the soprano castrato Angelo Maria Monticelli were invited to appear in London from 1739 to 1745. Londoners also heard Pergolesi’s music on the stage for the first time in 1741–2 (L’Olimpiade), and Lord Middlesex undoubtedly had a hand in bringing Gluck over in 1745–6. Middlesex engaged a complete buffo company from Italy for the coming seasons, before withdrawing from direct involvement in the opera management in autumn 1748. Francesco Vanneschi, Middlesex’s chief poet and assistant manager, ultimately took over as impresario in 1753...

Article

Ethyl L. Will

revised by Elisabeth Cook

(b Châlons-sur-Marne, Feb 18, 1725; d Paris, July 7, 1794). French administrator . He was the son of Pierre Papillon, president-treasurer of France ‘de la généralité de Champagne’ at Châlons-sur-Marne. In the mid-1740s Papillon moved to Paris, where he completed his law studies. He bought the three official positions of intendant-contrôler de l’argenterie (1756), menus-plaisirs (1762) and affaires de la chambre du roi (1762). Until 1760 the intendant had no control over the two Comédies, but Papillon obtained management of the Comédie-Italienne in 1760 and of the Comédie-Française in 1762. In 1773 he was appointed intendant de l’Ordre royal et militaire de St Louis. At the king’s request Papillon assisted in the reorganization of the Opéra in 1776. Although this position lasted only one year, his efforts were so successful that he obtained the supervisory direction of the Opéra (1780–90), as well as direction of the Ecole Royale de Chant (the forerunner of the Paris Conservatoire) from its establishment in ...

Article

Xoán M. Carreira

(b Somma, c 1730; d Bilbao, c 1774). Italian impresario and bass . Active in the Iberian peninsula, he directed a Neapolitan opera company taken to Barcelona by the Marqués de Mina. Its first performance, Auletta’s pasticcio Il maestro di cappella, was in the Captain General’s palace in 1750. The company staged Pergolesi’s La serva padrona at the Teatro de la Santa Cruz (with Setaro singing) and gave premières of three works by the company’s maestro di cappella, Giuseppe Scolari. Leaving part of the company in Barcelona under Giuseppe Ambrosini, Setaro took the others to Jerez de la Frontera (1753) and Puerto de Santa Maria (1753–4), but because of legal difficulties his singers returned to Barcelona.

In 1761 a Setaro company, including many of Nicolà’s family and colleagues, performed in Cádiz and Seville. Nicolà was active as impresario at the Teatro do Corpo da Guarda, Oporto, from ...

Article

Michael Talbot

Italian noble family of theatre proprietors . For over 250 years members of the S Fosca branch of the Vendramin family were proprietors of the Venetian theatre known both as S Salvatore after a neighbouring church and as S Luca after the parish in which it was situated. The original house was built in 1622 but was substantially reconstructed after a fire in 1653 and again in 1776. Under Andrea Vendramin (d 1684) S Luca at first presented only spoken comedy, but between 1661 and 1700 it was turned over to opera during Carnival, achieving a level of activity surpassed only by S Giovanni Grisostomo. After Andrea’s death, control passed successively to his son Alvise (d 1733) and grandson Antonio (d 1756). During the 18th century S Luca reverted largely to comedy, although between 1753 and 1769 it presented serious operas during Ascension. In the 19th century opera and comedy enjoyed greater parity. The family’s connection with S Luca ended in ...