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date: 15 November 2019

Algarotti, Francescolocked

  • Daniel Heartz

Extract

(b Venice, Dec 11, 1712; d Pisa, May 3, 1764). Italian writer on opera, poet and savant. He was well educated at Rome and Bologna, whence he was welcomed into the learned circles of London and Paris, where he shared accommodation with Voltaire. In 1740 Frederick the Great took him into his personal service and gave him the title of count. From 1742 to 1747 he was also adviser to Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. At both Berlin and Dresden he was actively engaged in operatic productions, arranging and versifying Italian librettos to the taste of his patrons. He returned to Italy in 1753 because of ill-health. His Saggio sopra l'opera in musica was written the following year and first published in 1755. It attacks the unruliness prevalent in Italian public theatres, which compared unfavourably with the well-regulated and varied spectacles beginning to emerge at the court theatres of northern Europe. Other contemporary essayists such as Blainville, John Brown, Calzabigi, Krause, Ortes and Durazzo said much the same thing in condemning the dominance of the singers over every other aspect of serious opera in Italy....

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