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Baglioni, Francesco  

Barbara Dobbs MacKenzie


Member of Baglioni family (opera)

(fl 1729–62). Italian bass and impresario. He was a comic opera singer who began singing intermezzos in the late 1720s in Foligno and Pesaro. He launched his comic opera career in Rome in 1738 with Gaetano Latilla’s La finta cameriera and Madama Ciana and Rinaldo da Capua’s La commedia in commedia. Productions throughout northern Italy of these operas along with another first performed in Rome, Rinaldo da Capua’s La libertà nociva (1740), dominated Baglioni’s career for the next decade. In 1749 he appeared in the dramma giocoso L’Arcadia in Brenta in Venice, the first collaboration between Galuppi and Goldoni, and for the remainder of his career he primarily sang texts written by Goldoni, in cities along the axis from Venice to Turin. According to the libretto of Lo speziale (1755, Venice; music by Vincenzo Pallavicini and Domenico Fischietti), Baglioni was a member of Girolamo Medebach’s opera troupe. Three of his daughters appeared in productions with him: Giovanna from ...


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....



Owen Jander, Lionel Sawkins, J.B. Steane, and Elizabeth Forbes

(Fr. basse; Ger. Bass; It. basso)

The lowest male voice, normally written for within the range F to e′, which may be extended at either end.

Italian composers in the late 16th century often wrote highly ornate parts for the bass voice, and this continued into the first three decades of the 17th. In opera, however, where bass roles were few and generally unimportant, ornate writing was relatively rare; the emphasis lay rather on dramatic portrayal. In the surviving operas of Monteverdi the bass already appears in some of what were to be its most important historical role types: as a god (particularly a god of the underworld: Pluto in Orfeo, 1607, Neptune in Il ritorno d’Ulisse, 1640), or as a sepulchral figure (Charon in Orfeo). In Orfeo Monteverdi called for special instrumentation (the regal, a trombone choir) which was itself to become a tradition in much operatic scoring associated with the bass voice. A further impressive use of the voice is for the role of Seneca in ...


Bass line  


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 (...


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 ...


Vedernikov, Alexander  

David Cummings


(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 (...