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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

Max Loppert

[Bronson Reginald ]

(b Harpenden, June 4, 1952). English director . Born into a distinguished theatrical family (his father was the impresario Donald Albery) he first gained a reputation in the British regional and avant-garde theatre with distinctive modern reappraisals of the classics marked by a cool, highly refined sense of visual style. His first opera production was of The Turn of the Screw, at the 1983 Musica Nel Chiostro festival at Batignano, Italy; this led to work with Opera North – Tippett’s Midsummer Marriage (1985), La finta giardiniera (1989), and most notably the production of Les Troyens (begun in 1986) that was later shared between Opera North, Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera. In each of these, but most particularly in his triumphant production of the Berlioz epic, Albery’s invention of a modern visual and dramatic language that combined stillness, taut economy, intense feeling for states of psychological and poetic complexity, and deep musical responsiveness created a powerful impression of musico-dramatic revelation. For the ENO he produced Berlioz’s ...

Article

John Rosselli

(bc 1625–6; d Rome, 1713).French-Italian theatre builder and impresario. A French nobleman from Orléans, he became secretary in 1662 to Queen Christina of Sweden (resident in Rome after her abdication), in whose service he remained till her death in 1689; he managed her musical and theatrical entertainments, opera included. Under her patronage he built in 1669 the Teatro di Tordinona, the first notable opera house in Rome; he also built tennis courts and once ran a lottery combined with an exhibition of mirrors. When a new pope in 1676 forbade the reopening of the Tordinona, and Christina’s income from Sweden was held up by war, d’Alibert went to Turin; there he built and, in 1678, managed another opera house, the Teatro Ducale (later Regio). After the opening season he judged it to be doubtfully profitable and returned to Rome, where he kept gambling tables in his own house and entertained his customers with plays, music and puppet shows. After the demolition of the Tordinona in ...

Article

Robert Lamar Weaver

(bc1755; dc1829). Italian impresario and librettist. His family was from Vicenza. Though trained as a lawyer, he chose instead to become an actor like his parents, and joined first Pietro Rossi’s company in Venice and then, around 1777, the Compagnia Nazionale Toscana in Florence, directed by Giovanni Roffi. His first tragedy, Le glorie della religione di Malta, had success in many Italian theatres. He succeeded Roffi as impresario of the Teatro del Cocomero in 1785 and served until 1795, visiting Milan for a season in 1792.

Andolfati’s greatest importance lies in his cultivation of Florentine poets and composers for the Cocomero’s musical repertory. His contract there required him to translate French farces into Italian; in addition to the librettos listed below that are almost certainly his work, he probably wrote the otherwise anonymous librettos for most of the farse and some of the intermezzos given at the theatre during his tenure....

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

Harold Rosenthal

(Walter)

(b Birmingham, Oct 19, 1913; d London, Jan 19, 1972). English administrator. He began his theatrical life in 1929 as an actor, but soon turned to stage management. After World War II he became general manager of the Old Vic and in 1951 was appointed general manager of Sadler’s Wells, and then administrative director. In ...

Article

Barry Millington

(Vincent Crocker )

(b Hertford, April 16, 1950). English director . After a period as staff director for the WNO (1979–84) and Covent Garden (1984–6), and an impressive début with Parsifal for the WNO in 1983, he was responsible for a series of strongly characterized productions both at home and abroad. His ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(Francis)

(b London, Sept 24, 1888; d London, July 9, 1981). English baritone and director. He studied at Oxford, making his début in 1919 with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, then sang with the O’Mara Opera Company and at the Old Vic. For Oxford University Opera Club (1925–31...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Saint Lô, May 14, 1942). French director . At Toulouse in 1974 he directed Manon, which won the Cultural Ministry’s prize for best production of the year. He staged Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra at Aix and Le roi d’Ys at Wexford (1975), Carmen at Toulouse and La bohème...

Article

(b Vercelli, 1770; d Milan, 1850). Italian impresario . He began as a croupier, and in later life deceived Berlioz and others by saying that he had been a tailleur (‘tailor’, but less obviously ‘card-cutter’). Gambling threw him together with Domenico Barbaia, whose assistant he became in his manifold enterprises as a gambling promoter and opera impresario, first in Venice from 1807, where he managed La Fenice, then in Naples, Palermo and Milan. When Barbaia withdrew from Milan in 1828, Balochino stayed on at La Scala, working again as assistant to leading impresarios, in particular Bartolomeo Merelli. From 1835 to 1848 he was Merelli’s partner and representative in charge of the Kärntnertortheater, Vienna, besides sharing in Merelli’s operatic agency business. Balochino therefore dealt, through the heyday of early 19th-century Italian opera, with some of the most notable artists of the time. He seems, however, to have been a canny, stubborn businessman without much artistic flair; late in his career he rejected a work by his own musical director, Otto Nicolai – ...

Article

Elisabeth Cook

(b Pesaro, 1697; d Pesaro, 1770). Italian impresario . After serving as maestro di cappella at Cortona and Pesaro, he spent some time in Moravia, where his operas Partenope (1733) and La pravità castigata (1734) were performed. He became impresario of the Regio Ducal Teatro Nuovo in Milan in 1745 and director of Italian opera at the city theatre in Strasbourg five years later. On 24 May 1752 he agreed to provide seven singers and an orchestra for performances in Rouen later that year, but this contract was revoked by the Opéra and the singers were summoned to Paris. Their part in the Querelle des Bouffons (opera) has been overemphasized: generally considered an integrated and talented troupe that took Paris by storm, the Bouffons were in reality a group of minor actors on the periphery of the Italian operatic world. Few of them had performed together before meeting in Strasbourg and, except for Bambini’s wife, the soprano Anna Tonelli, none had enjoyed widespread success in Italy. The eventual popularity of early performances such as Pergolesi’s ...

Article

Ferenc Bónis

(b Kolozsvár [now Cluj-Napoca], Dec 30, 1874; d Budapest, June 6, 1950). Hungarian opera director, designer and writer. After studying law at the universities of Kolozsvár and Budapest he entered the service of the state. From 1912 to 1917 he was director of the Hungarian State Theatres (the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre), and in 1917–18 was general director of the Budapest opera house, where he undertook the renewal of the outmoded repertory and 19th-century traditions of staging. Although World War I thwarted some of his plans, he succeeded in bringing new life to the repertory by introducing works such as Salome (1912), Boris Godunov, Die Entführung and L’enfant prodigue (all 1913), Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus (1914), Franz Schmidt’s Notre Dame (1916), Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle (1918) and many ballets. Bánffy smoothed Bartók’s path to the stage, and not just as director: his set, reminiscent of naive folk art, for the ballet ...

Article

Noël Goodwin

(Mary )

(b London, May 9, 1874; d London, Nov 25, 1937). English theatre manager, originator of the Vic-Wells (later Sadler’s Wells) Opera and Ballet companies . She received early musical instruction from her parents, who were touring concert-party artists; she joined them as a teenager, and formed the St James’ Ladies Orchestra when she was 14. Accompanying her parents to South Africa, she began giving music lessons in Johannesburg, but returned to London in 1898 to help her aunt, Emma Cons, manage the Old Vic Theatre, where she included some opera in English. Baylis took sole charge from 1912, and by the 1920s opera productions were given there twice a week. She then campaigned for and raised £80 000 to rebuild the then derelict Sadler’s Wells Theatre; the house reopened in 1931, and her first opera presentation there was Carmen, on 20 January. An indefatigable social worker in the Victorian temperance tradition, she gradually ensured regular seasons of opera and ballet at ‘popular’ prices without benefit of public subsidy: the basis of what later became the English National Opera and the Royal Ballet. She was appointed CH in ...

Article

Richard Evidon

(b Uppsala, July 14, 1918). Swedish stage and screen director and writer . Although he is generally regarded as one of the most distinguished and influential film-makers of the postwar period, Bergman’s more constant sphere of activity has been the legitimate theatre, where he has concentrated his work since retiring from the cinema in 1982. He has described his musical limitations candidly, yet a lifelong love for opera drew him into staging Die Dreigroschenoper in Stockholm in 1950, Die lustige Witwe at Malmö in 1954 and The Rake’s Progress at the Royal Opera, Stockholm, in 1961, which Stravinsky considered the perfect realization of his opera; a production of Die Zauberflöte planned for Hamburg in 1965 was cancelled because of Bergman’s illness. Returning to the opera stage in 1991, he directed and collaborated in writing the libretto of a new work, Backanterna (after Euripides: The Bacchae), by the Swedish composer Daniel Börtz. The opera and, in particular, Bergman’s stunning production were widely acclaimed....

Article

Max Loppert

(John Elwyn )

(b London, Feb 5, 1924; d London, Dec 23, 2002). English director . During his period as an Oxford undergraduate he produced Idomeneo for the Oxford University Opera Club (1947); immediately afterwards he went to Glyndebourne, where he worked (1950–53) as an assistant to Moran Caplat and came under the influence of the producers Carl Ebert and Günther Rennert. Besch’s first professional production was of Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes (1953, WNO); thereafter he went on to produce operas at all the main British houses and festivals – he formed a particularly close link with Sadler’s Wells Opera and the New Opera Company (of which he was a guiding figure) – and in most of the world’s main operatic centres. Besch’s skill in economically marshalling stage forces and his acute sense of style very seldom failed him in the enormous number and wide variety of works tackled during a long career. He was particularly associated with the operas of Rossini (his deft, elegantly witty Sadler’s Wells stagings of ...

Article

Hugh Canning

(b Zürich, 1948). Swiss director . He studied at Jacques Lecocq’s Ecole de Pantomime in Paris and made his début directing at the Théâtre Universitaire International de Paris. In 1969 he was appointed a production assistant at the Thalia Theater, Hamburg, and from 1971 staged his own productions of a series of important plays – Genet’s Les bonnes (1971, Hamburg), Ionesco’s Les chaises (1972, Nuremberg), Shakespeare’s As you like it (1973, Wuppertal) and Goethe’s Stella (1973, Darmstadt). Between 1974 and 1976 he was a resident director at the Frankfurt Städtische Bühne. From the early 1980s, Bondy worked in Cologne and during this period made his first forays into opera with Lulu and Wozzeck for the Hamburg Staatsoper and Così fan tutte and L’incoronazione di Poppea at La Monnaie. In 1985 he succeeded Peter Stein as artistic director of the Schaubühne, Berlin. Since 1987 he has divided his activities as a freelance director between opera and the theatre. His opera productions are marked by a surrealistic representationalism in scenic design and acting of great emotional intensity. His production of ...

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

John Rosselli

(b 1806–7; d after 1882). Italian opera house official . An accountant by training, he was from 1843 to 1882 (with a break in 1859–67) secretary to the management committee of the largely aristocratic society that owned La Fenice, Venice, one of the three leading Italian opera houses in the 1840s and 50s. A committee member arranged the opera seasons, conducting much of the business himself, but as the post changed hands fairly often it was the secretary who provided continuity and acted as permanent manager. Brenna behaved in some ways like an impresario-agent, for example, by taking a cut on artists’ agency fees; he even tried unsuccessfully to take a cut on the baritone Felice Varesi’s fee when no outside agent was involved. His letters, written mainly on his superiors’ behalf, are impersonal. He appears to have been trusted: he negotiated with Verdi over the librettos of ...

Article

Katherine K. Preston

(b Wexford, 1798; d at sea, May 21, 1867). English bass and opera manager . After several years’ acting at the Haymarket Theatre, he accompanied Joseph and Mary Anne Paton Wood to the USA in 1833 and 1840; his American début (as Dandini in M. R. Lacy’s adaptation of Cenerentola) was in New York on 4 September 1835. He sang intermittently with the Park Theatre company in New York, and made several extended tours that included performances in Savannah, Mobile and New Orleans. In 1839 he performed with Jane Shirreff and John Wilson on their North American tour. After the mid-1840s he concentrated on the business side of music, working as manager for the Anna Bishop, Brough-Delcy and Manvers opera companies; during the mid-1850s he managed an extensive tour by the Pyne-Harrison English Opera Company. He died aboard ship while returning to England and was buried in Brooklyn in ...

Article

Thomas Kaufman

( fl 1865–85). Italian impresario . He gave an extended season of Italian opera in Calcutta in the spring and summer of 1866 and tried to establish a regular opera company there by presenting autumn and winter seasons up to 1871. That year he joined forces with Giovanni Pompei, in Melbourne, but Pompei returned to India and Cagli, after a disastrous attempt at solo management, entered into partnership with W. S. Lyster, touring in Australia and New Zealand. He then returned to Italy. In 1875 he put on the first Italian opera to be heard in Cape Town (Il trovatore, 15 November 1875), and gave seasons there up to 1877. The next year he embarked on an extended Asian tour, to Bombay, Allahabad, Calcutta, Madras, Singapore, Batavia (followed by a Javan tour), Hong Kong and, in 1880, Shanghai, where he gave the city’s first Italian opera season. In further tours he visited Yokohama in ...