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Article

Franco Piperno

(b Florence; fl 1737–58). Italian mezzo-soprano . Initially a singer of intermezzos, in 1742 she married the bass Pietro Pertici, with whom she performed commedie per musica; as members of companies specializing in opera buffa the two contributed significantly to the wide success of the genre. Brogi took soubrette and leading juvenile roles in the highly successful comic operas of Auletta, Chinzer, Latilla and others. She worked mainly in Tuscany but also sang in Venice, Milan, Turin, Brescia, Mantua, Genoa and Bologna; outside Italy she appeared in comic opera in London (...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

[Mrs Cargill ]

(b London, c 1759; d off Scilly Isles, March 1784). English soprano and actress . She made her début as a child in Arne’s The Fairy Prince (November 1771) and appeared regularly on the London stage from autumn 1772. She created the roles of Clara in The Duenna, Mrs Townly in Hook’s The Lady of the Manor and Marinetta in Linley’s The Carnival of Venice. She was a captivating Macheath in Coleman’s travesty Beggar’s Opera in 1781. Her private life was unsettled, both before and after her marriage, and in 1782 she went to India, reputedly with a lover. There she ‘played all her favourite opera characters at immense prices, and likewise attempted tragedy with considerable applause’. On her return journey she drowned with a child in her arms when the packet Nancy sank.

BDA DNB (J. Knight) LS A. Pasquin [pseud. of J Williams]: ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, Feb 4, 1723; d London, Aug 4, 1792). English dramatist . ‘Gentleman Johnny’ Burgoyne, the English general forced to surrender to the Americans at Saratoga (1777), was the librettist of William Jackson’s only successful opera, The Lord of the Manor (1780), in the preface to which he advocated English ‘musical comedy’. Garrick’s staging of his first dramatic piece, ...

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Marita P. McClymonds

(b Naples, 1760; d after 1788). Italian composer. He set the second of only two librettos by Marco Coltellini ever performed in Milan, Antigona (La Scala, 26 December 1788). The opera’s shocking introductory scene, which freely combines pantomime, dance, chorus and recitative, focusses on a brutal battle to the death between two brothers whose bodies lie on stage during the coronation that follows. Choruses, which were just beginning to appear regularly in opera during the latter years of the decade, figure prominently in several other scenes, either alone or in combination with ensemble....

Article

Dale E. Monson

(fl 1743–65). Italian tenor. Little is known of his life; librettos refer to him only as ‘bolognese’. He first sang in a revival of Buini’s Le frenesie d’amore in Bologna in 1736, then appeared in Rimini two years later. After 1743 he was regularly engaged as tenore in Venice, Lucca, Rome, Bologna, Naples, Ferrara and Siena. In 1749–51 he appeared in Madrid, where he created the title role for Galuppi’s first setting of Demofoonte, a part he later repeated for Bologna. He spent 1755–6 in Vienna and returned for four more operas in 1760–61. His last known engagements were in Venice in 1764–5. Carlani’s voice was lyric, and his music often marked by profound pathos. Hasse’s new setting of Artaserse for Naples in 1760 shows that he had an extraordinarily wide range of nearly three octaves, from F to d″. He was capable of extended coloratura, including large leaps in fast tempos, repeated notes and frequent scale passages. In his later years, when his voice was in decline, he increasingly accepted secondo uomo roles....

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Dennis Libby

(fl 1772–88). Italian soprano. She was married to Antonio Carrara, a Venetian employed by David Garrick. By 1772 she had begun to sing in London concerts and was seconda donna at the Italian Opera in 1772–3, described by Walpole as ‘the prettiest creature upon earth’, but by Burney as having a ‘voice … naturally drowsy, childish, and insipid’; however, after lessons from Millico she sang with him as prima donna at Florence in ...

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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....

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Richard Taruskin

[née Sophie Auguste Fredericke von Anhalt-Zerbst]

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], 21 April/May 2, 1729; d Tsarskoye Selo, 6/Nov 17, 1796). Empress of Russia. She acceded in 1762 following a palace coup against her husband Peter III, and became known as ‘Catherine the Great’. Continuing the policy of her predecessors, the empresses Anna (reigned 1730–40) and Elizabeth (1741–61), she maintained a court opera theatre staffed by Italians, personally patronizing Cimarosa, Paisiello, Galuppi and Sarti, as well as her special favourite, the italianized Spaniard Martín y Soler. She also patronized comic opera in the vernacular and encouraged native talent to apply itself to this genre. Among the talents she nurtured was her own very modest one as a dramatist, which she exercised, as she put it to a friend, for the sake of relaxation and distraction from affairs of state. With the assistance of two literary secretaries, Ivan Yelagin and Alexander Khrapovitsky, she wrote three volumes of Russian plays and a fourth in French....

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Patricia Lewy Gidwitz

(b Brescia, Dec 1712; d Brescia, Aug 1785). Italian librettist. After a brief military career Chiari settled in Venice in 1746, where he wrote comedies, romanze and polemics under the Arcadian name of Egerindo Criptonide. In 1749 he joined the S Samuele theatre where he wrote for the Imer-Casali company of commedia dell’arte players; in 1753 he took a similar post at the S Angelo, which Goldoni had recently abandoned for the competing theatre, the S Luca. Chiari’s blatant parodies of Goldoni aroused fury, and the literary war between the two marked the apogee of Chiari’s fame. In summer 1754 Chiari went to Modena as court poet to Francesco III. A return to the Venetian stage in 1760 was not a success, and it was at this point that he took to writing opera librettos, usually for Galuppi and Traetta. His most popular included Il marchese villano, set by Galuppi and later by Paisiello, Piccinni, Nasolini and others under a variety of titles, and ...

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John Rosselli

(d after 1790). Italian tenor . He sang in several London seasons (1754–6, 1764–6), first appearing as Danaus in Ipermestra by Hasse and Lampugnani; he earned praise – in Burney’s words – for singing with ‘much taste and feeling’, distinguished himself in J. C. Bach’s aria ‘Non sò d’onde viene’, originally written for Raaff, and appears to have been regarded as a conscientious artist. He went on singing in leading Italian opera houses (Turin, Milan and Rome) until at least ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b Stourton, Wilts., bap. Jan 13, 1767; d Edinburgh, July 16, 1799). English mezzo-soprano. She moved to Dublin with her father, a cathedral singer, and sang in concerts there before her marriage. In December 1791 her husband was in a debtors’ prison and she went first to London, where despite Mrs Billington’s help she failed to find engagements, and then to Bath. Rauzzini taught her and promoted her career so that she was able to raise the money to free her husband. She made a successful London début in Shield’s Hartford Bridge (1792) and sang at Covent Garden for six seasons. She was praised for her taste, for the fullness of her middle and lower voice and the sweetness of her upper notes. In summer 1797 she sang opposite Incledon at the Crow Street Theatre, Dublin, and in 1798 took up an engagement at Edinburgh, where she died after a protracted illness....

Article

Mercedes Viale Ferrero and Sybil Rosenfeld

[Innocenzo] (Giovanni Battista)

(b Arogno, 1717; d Arogno, 1793). Italian stage designer. In his youth he studied art with his uncle, Luca Antonio, and in 1737 emigrated to Germany, where he worked in Brunswick, Hamburg, Hanover, Kassel, Mainz, Mannheim and Munich. In Frankfurt he devised mises-en-scène for the election of Charles VII (1742). At Stuttgart he was architect and perspective painter at Carl Eugen of Württemberg’s court and designed magnificent scenery for operas by Jommelli, such as L’asilo d’amore (1758), Alessandro nell’Indie (1760), Demofoonte (1764) and Vologeso (1766) and for ballets by Noverre. In 1764 he worked at the Nuovo Teatro, Como, where he also painted the decoration of the auditorium. In 1770–71 he was active at the Teatro Regio in Turin and had a stormy disagreement with the stage superintendent, G. B. Filippo Nicolis di Robilant, about the scenery for Paisiello’s ...

Article

Dennis Libby

(fl 1756–77). Italian tenor. He made his opera seria début at Bologna in May 1756, but did not then begin a sustained career. During the period 1760–68 he was with Jommelli’s company at Stuttgart (except for 1762, when he sang in Florence, Venice and Genoa). From autumn 1769...

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Mercedes Viale Ferrero

[Gianfrancesco]

(b Venice, 1711; d Venice, Oct or Nov 1772). Italian engraver and stage designer. A pupil of G. Mengozzi Colonna, Costa was famous as an engraver (Delle delicie del fiume Brenta). As designer he worked principally in Venice (at the S Angelo, S Benedetto, S Giovanni Grisostomo and S Samuele theatres), though he was also active in Vicenza (Teatro delle Grazie) and Padua (Teatro Obizzi). In Turin (Teatro Regio) he worked either on his own (Gluck’s Poro, Carnival 1745) or with Giambattista Crosato. In his later years he was assisted by his son Tommaso and other young sons. He designed the Teatro S Benedetto in Venice, with U-shaped auditorium and five tiers of boxes, and the scenery for the inaugural opera (Gioacchino Cocchi’s Zoe, 26 December 1755) and many others in the following years (including Gian Francesco Majo’s Antigono, 26 December 1767). The theatre was destroyed by fire on ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(fl 1763–6). Italian soprano. She sang with the Italian opera company in London between 1763 and 1765 and in concerts, including the first London appearance of the young Mozarts. She was in J. C. Bach’s Orione and Adriano in Siria and took the lead in two English operas at Drury Lane in ...

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José Antonio González

(b Bologna, c1770; d ?Mexico, after 1825). Italian composer and conductor. He was probably a pupil at the Bologna Conservatory and later studied with Paisiello and Cimarosa. In 1798 he was musical director at La Scala and his first opera, La citta nuova, was performed there. He went to Barcelona in 1803 and then lived in Madrid (1803–11) and Cuba (1811–22), composing several Spanish operas. In 1823 he was living in Mexico as a piano teacher and composer.

all lost

MDCP Madrid, Teatro de los Caños del Peral

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Presezzo, Bergamo, 1750; d Bergamo, Dec 31, 1830). Italian tenor . He was self-taught as a singer, but studied composition in Naples. After making his début in 1773 at the Regio Ducal Teatro, Milan, in the première of Gazzaniga’s Zon Zon, he sang in Turin, Venice, Bologna, Lucca, Rome, Parma and at La Scala, where he took part in the premières of Cimarosa’s ...

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Marita P. McClymonds

( fl Naples, 1790s). Italian poet . His principal claim to fame is an updated version of Ines de Castro, which Cosimo Giotti had written for Florence with music by Gaetano Andreozzi in 1783. In his rewritten version of 1794 De Santis provided Francesco Bianchi with multiple ensembles – an introductory quintet, several duets, and two ensemble finales (a trio and a sextet) – newly fashionable in ...

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Thomas Bauman

(fl 1798–1800). Italian librettist. Virtually nothing is known about him apart from his librettos for comic operas by Jan Josef Rösler in Prague and Paer and Salieri in Vienna. His libretto Angiolina (1800) carries the remark, ‘The poetry is in great part by Sig. Carlo Prospero Defranceschi, Candidate in Jurisprudence’. Salieri’s setting of the libretto was produced a year later in London, with Defranceschi’s text much altered by Da Ponte.

Defranceschi’s alterations to Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor for Salieri’s Falstaff of 1799 reveal a poetic-dramatic hand of considerable skill, able to reconcile a rambling Elizabethan comedy with the conventions of Viennese opera buffa. Within the two-act plan he develops sharp contrasts among the five principals (Falstaff and the two married couples), which are turned to account in the musical variety inspired from Salieri and in the lively ensembles and finales.

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Lowell Lindgren

(fl 1708–52). Decorative and scene painter. He was probably born in France. In 1708 he was working as Gerard Lanscroon’s assistant in England, and in 1718 he was a ‘history painter’ in London with his own apprentice. He thus decorated walls in noble homes with architectural scenes and landscapes that used foreshortening, perspective and other techniques vital to scene painting. He is known to have painted scenes for various productions at Drury Lane in 1723–1733, Goodman’s Fields in 1735–46, Norwich in 1739 and New Wells, Clerkenwell, in 1740–42.

Most of Devoto’s extant stage designs are small sketches in a volume containing 92 of his drawings (London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings). His earliest dated designs are of 1719–20, and they include copies of Filippo Juvarra’s scenes for Filippo Amadei’s Teodosio il giovane (1711, Rome) and a Bibienesque scene. Perhaps Devoto hoped for employment by the newly founded Royal Academy of Music at the King’s Theatre, but the earliest – and only – evidence of his scene painting for that opera house is a notice in the ...