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Bannister, Charles  

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Member of Bannister family

(b Newland, Gloucs., 1741; d London, Oct 19, 1804). English bass and actor. He had a fine, untaught voice and sang roles including Macheath and Hawthorne in Norwich before his Drury Lane début as Merlin in Michael Arne’s Cymon (1767). In 1768 he created Don Diego in The Padlock and for over 20 years was given leading roles in musical pieces by Dibdin, Shield and Arnold. Tom Tug in The Waterman and Steady in The Quaker were two of his successes; he was also admired for his Grimbald (King Arthur), Hecate and Caliban. According to the Thespian Dictionary his voice ‘was a strong, clear bass, with one of the most extensive falsettos ever heard’. In the early 1780s he was an incomparable Polly in travesty performances of The Beggar’s Opera. There, as in his famous imitations of the castratos, the humour lay in brilliantly accurate mimicry and not in exaggerated burlesque. Convivial, improvident, witty and good-natured, he was said to attribute his vocal stamina to gargling with port wine....

Article

Bland, James  

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

Member of Bland family

(b London, March 5, 1798; d London, July 17, 1861). English bass-baritone and actor, son of Maria Theresa Bland. He sang in the company of the English Opera House at the Lyceum (1826–30) and then, after a brief period acting minor roles at Drury Lane, achieved fame in J.R. Planché's burlesque burlettas. Planché called him the ‘monarch of the extravaganza’, praised his ‘good baritone voice’ and wrote that his acting never degenerated into buffoonery. He died suddenly at the Strand Theatre, where he was due to perform in ...

Article

Dérivis, Henri-Etienne  

Elizabeth Forbes

Member of Dérivis family

(b Albi, Aug 2, 1780; d Livry, Seine et Oise, Feb 1, 1856). French bass. He made his début in 1803 at the Paris Opéra, where he was engaged until 1828. He created the Pontifex Maximus in Spontini’s La Vestale (1807) and the High Priest in the same composer’s ...

Article

Dérivis, (Nicholas) Prosper  

Elizabeth Forbes

Member of Dérivis family

(b Paris, Oct 28, 1808; d Paris, Feb 11, 1880). French bass, son of Henri-Etienne Dérivis. He studied in Paris and made his début there at the Opéra in 1831. During the next 20 years he sang an enormous repertory, including Bertram (Robert le diable), William Tell, Leporello, Don Giovanni and Balthazar (La favorite). He sang a Herald in the first performance of La Juive (1835) and later took the part of Cardinal Brogny in that opera. He created Nevers in Les Huguenots (1836), Balducci in Benvenuto Cellini (1838) and Félix in Donizetti’s Les martyrs (1840). At La Scala he sang Zaccaria in the first performance of Nabucco (1842) and Pagano at the première of I Lombardi (1843). He created the Prefect in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix in Vienna (...

Article

Gerl, Franz Xaver  

Peter Branscombe

revised by David Buch

Member of Gerl family

(b Andorf, Upper Austria, Nov 30, 1764; d Mannheim, March 9, 1827). Austrian bass and composer. The son of a village schoolmaster and organist, Gerl by 1777 was an alto chorister at Salzburg, where he must have been a pupil of Leopold Mozart. He was at the Salzburg Gymnasium from 1778 until 1782 and he then went on to study logic and physics at the university. In the autumn of 1785 he went to Erlangen as a bass, joining the theatrical company of Ludwig Schmidt, who had been at Salzburg earlier that year. In the autumn of 1786 he joined G.F.W. Grossmann’s company, performing in the Rhineland, and specialized in ‘comic roles in comedies and Singspiele’. By 1787 he was a member of Schikaneder’s company at Regensburg, making his début in Sarti’s Wenn zwei sich streiten (Fra i due litiganti) and appearing as Osmin in ...

Article

Gerl, (Judas) Thaddäus  

Peter Branscombe

revised by David Buch

Member of Gerl family

(b Andorf, Upper Austria, Oct 28, 1774; d ?Bayreuth, April 13, 1844). Austrian bass, brother of Franz Xaver Gerl. From 1785 until 1792 he was a chorister at Salzburg Cathedral and then studied logic and physics at Salzburg University until 1795. He sang bass with the choirs of the university church and St Peter’s as a student, and from November 1796 until 1805 he was second bass in the court music establishment, from 1801 also appearing at the municipal theatre. He was granted two years’ leave of absence from 1 February 1804 in the interest of ‘perfecting his knowledge of singing and the theatre’; he was a member of the Lemberg (L′viv) company during his leave of absence (which was extended), but on his return to Salzburg he found that the court music establishment had been dismissed. The remainder of his life (after the birth in Salzburg of a son, Johannes Thaddäus, on ...

Article

Graziani, Giuseppe  

Elizabeth Forbes

Article

Hopper, (William) De Wolf  

Gerald Bordman

(b New York, NY, March 30, 1858; d Kansas City, MO, Sept 23, 1935). American bass and comedian. He was expected to follow his family tradition and become a lawyer, but after his father’s death he abandoned his studies and used his inheritance to form his own acting company. The company failed, partly because, being exceptionally tall, Hopper towered comically above the rest of his troupe. He then studied singing (he had a fine bass voice), and struck huge success in 1884 when John McCaull cast him in John Philip Sousa’s Désirée. He solidified his reputation in The Begum (1887) and The Lady or the Tiger? (1888). He then played leading roles in several shows opposite the diminutive Della Fox, where the disparity in their height was deliberately exploited for its comic effect; productions included Castles in the Air (1890), Wang (...

Article

Kratzer, Franciszek Ksawery  

Tadeusz Przybylski

Member of Kratzer family

(b Austria, 1731; d Kraków, Aug 3, 1818). Polish bass and choir trainer. After studying in Vienna he worked in Wieliczka. From 1763 he was a singer in Kraków, and was appointed cantor of Wawel Cathedral in Kraków on 20 February 1768. From 1781 to 1797...

Article

Lobkowitz, Joseph Franz Maximilian  

Milan Poštolka

revised by William Meredith

[Josef Frantisek Maximilián]

Member of Lobkowitz family

(b Roudnice nad Labem, Dec 7, 1772; d Třeboň, Dec 15, 1816). Bohemian patron and bass singer, son of Ferdinand Philipp Joseph Lobkowitz. He was the first Duke of Roudnice and the foremost patron of the arts in Vienna and Bohemia from his coming of age in 1797 until 1814. The Lobkowitz accounts record vast sums paid for art, books, musical instruments, and music scores. He also granted several artists annual pensions, the most famous of these being Beethoven. Beginning in 1796 or 1797 he hired a small orchestra which accompanied him on his travels and he had several operas performed every year at his seats in Vienna, Roudnice and Eisenberg (now Jezeři). He hired several copyists’ workshops to make hundreds of copies of the works of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and other composers and substantially enlarged the family music archives. In 1799 he converted the largest hall in his Vienna palace into a concert hall with a stage for 24 orchestra players and upholstered benches for the audience. His support of opera and theatre was prodigious: in ...

Article

Macurdy, John  

Martin Bernheimer

(b Detroit, March 18, 1929; d Stamford, CT, May 7, 2020). American bass. He served in the US Air Force before studying with Avery Crew and Boris Goldovsky. After appearances in New Orleans and Santa Fe, he joined the New York City Opera in 1959 and moved to the Metropolitan Opera in ...

Article

de Reszke, Edouard  

Elizabeth Forbes

Member of De Reszke family

(b Warsaw, Dec 22, 1853; d Garnek, Poland, May 25, 1917). Polish bass, brother of Jean de Reszke. He studied with Steller and Coletti, and made his début as the King in the first Paris performance of Aida at the Opéra in 1876. He was then engaged for two seasons at the Théâtre Italien. He sang Indra in Massenet’s Le roi de Lahore at Milan (1879) and made his London début at Covent Garden in the same role (1880). He also sang Saint-Bris (Les Huguenots), Rodolfo (La sonnambula) and Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia). In 1881 he sang Fiesco in the first performance of the revised version of Simon Boccanegra at La Scala, Milan, where he also appeared as Silva (Ernani). He sang Alvise in the first London performance of ...

Article

Teyber, Franz  

Peter Branscombe

Member of Teyber family

(b Vienna, bap. Aug 25, 1758; d Vienna, 21 or Oct 22, 1810). Austrian composer, organist, bass singer, and conductor, son of Matthäus Teyber. After receiving musical instruction from his father and Wagenseil he undertook extensive tours of Swabia, Switzerland and Baden, and then in or about 1786 he joined Schikaneder’s travelling troupe as conductor and composer, having been in Vienna again the previous season. Leopold Mozart, discussing the company’s Salzburg season of 1786, refers to Teyber as ‘my very good acquaintance from Vienna; a thorough, excellent musician, good composer, organist, and violoncellist’ (letter of 5 May 1786). In 1788–9 Teyber was in Karlsruhe, in 1791–3 in Cologne, and then in Regensburg and Augsburg. From 1796 until 1798 he was at Berne and then returned to Vienna. He was honoured with the task of writing the opera for the opening performance at the new Theater an der Wien on ...

Article

Vedernikov, Alexander  

David Cummings

(Filippovich)

(b Mokino, nr Kirov, Dec 23, 1927; d Moscow, Jan 9, 2018). Soviet bass. After study in Moscow and Milan he made his début at the Bol’shoy in 1957, as Ivan Susanin in Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar. He sang in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, and Tbilisi, most notably as Dosifey (...

Article

Weber, Fridolin (i)  

Paul Corneilson

Member of Weber family

(b Zell im Wiesental, 1733; d Vienna, Oct 23, 1779). German vocalist. He was a bass singer at the Mannheim court chapel from 1767 to 1778, and also copied music for Mozart there in 1777–8. In 1756 he married Marie Cecilia Stamm (1727–93...