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Article

John A. Rice

(bc 1760; d 1792 or later). Italian soprano . She is sometimes identified with a singer named Bianchi, but there is no strong supporting evidence. She seems to have started singing publicly in oratorios in 1778. Seven years later she made her opera seria début in Florence in the title role of Tarchi’s Virginia at the Teatro della Pergola, and she went on to create the role of Semiramide in Prati’s La vendetta di Nino. Her success in the role may have been an important factor in her sudden rise to prominence as an opera seria singer.

Giuliani spent 1788–9 in London, singing works by Sarti, Cimarosa, Cherubini and Tarchi. Back in Florence for Carnival 1791, she created the role of Phaedra in Nasolini’s Teseo a Stige and revived Prati’s La vendetta di Nino. Leopold II, assembling an opera seria troupe in Vienna, made Giuliani his prima donna, and she made her Viennese début in winter ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

( fl 1751–77). Italian soprano castrato . Burney wrote that Giustinelli ‘had a good voice, and sufficient merit to supply the place of second man on our stage in the serious operas’. After his début in Rome in 1751 he performed regularly there and in other Italian operatic centres until 1763, when he became a member of the Italian opera company at the King’s Theatre, London, for two years, singing in Orione (1763), J. C. Bach’s first opera in England. In the 1764–5 season he appeared at Drury Lane in two new English operas, M. Arne and Battishill’s Almena and William Bates’s Pharnaces. He then visited Lisbon to sing in opera, but returned to England by February 1768. In 1777 he is listed among the ‘cantanti choristi’ for an opera in the ducal theatre at Mantua.

BDA BurneyH LS SartoriL M. C. de Brito: Opera in Portugal in the Eighteenth Century...

Article

Jeremy Hayes, Bruce Alan Brown, Max Loppert and Winton Dean

(b Erasbach, nr Berching, Upper Palatinate, July 2, 1714; d Vienna, Nov 15, 1787). Bohemian-Austrian composer of Italian and French opera, a leading figure in opera of the second half of the 18th century, and the person chiefly credited with the ‘reform’ of opera after the age of Metastasian opera seria.

Jeremy Hayes

Gluck’s interest in music was evident from an early age. He studied the violin, the cello and singing, but his father was opposed to his becoming a professional musician and wanted him to follow his own career as a forester. To escape this, Gluck ran away from home at the age of 13 or 14 and went to Prague, earning his living on the way by singing and playing the jew’s harp (as he later told the painter Christian von Mannlich). Although he was involved in a great deal of music-making in the Bohemian capital, and for a time was organist at the Tyn Church, he does not appear to have received any systematic musical education there and was largely self-taught. An early influence must have been the Prague opera house, where Italian opera was popular: Vivaldi, Albinoni and Lolli were among the composers whose works were most often performed there in the first half of the 18th century....

Article

Mercedes Viale Ferrero

(b Longarone, March 25, 1751; d St Petersburg, 25 July/Aug 6, 1831). Italian stage designer. He was a pupil of Giuseppe Moretti and Antonio Visentini in Venice. In 1772 he moved to Milan and began working as a stage designer under the Galliari brothers at the Regio Ducal Teatro, and then at the Teatro Interinale and at La Scala, where he was listed among the principal scenographers from 1779, at first for comic operas (Giuseppe Sarti’s Le gelosie villane, 1779; Cimarosa’s Il falegname, 1781) and later for all serious productions, including Sarti’s Idalide (1783), Cherubini’s Ifigenia in Aulide and Cimarosa’s Olimpiade (both 1788). Besides working at La Scala and the Cannobiana in Milan, Gonzaga was active in Varese (Teatro Ducale, 1779), Alessandria (Teatro Civico, 1779–82), Genoa (Teatro di S Agostino, 1780–91), Rome (Teatro Alibert, 1781), Mantua (Teatro Regio Ducale, ...

Article

(b Gotha, Sept 3, 1746; d Gotha, March 18, 1797). German poet and librettist. He studied law and pursued a diplomatic career in the service of the Gotha court. He wrote comedies, tragedies, and poetry, translated copiously for the theatre and contributed to German opera and the melodrama. His first comic operas, Die Dorfgala and Der Jahrmarkt, temper Weisse’s sentimental rusticity with a more farcical strain executed with urbane detachment. In 1776 Gotter wrote two serious operas with spoken dialogue, Walder and Romeo und Julie, for Georg Benda. A year earlier Benda had set Gotter’s finest musical text, the melodrama Medea. Written for the great tragedienne Sophie Seyler, it surpasses Brandes’s Ariadne auf Naxos in poetic power and dramatic force. Late in life, Gotter collaborated with Friedrich von Einsiedel on Geisterinsel, Die, an operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Tempest. Although dramatically attenuated, its poetry is elegant and mellifluous, and the text enjoyed several settings....

Article

Sybil Rosenfeld

(d London, Oct 17, 1797). English scene designer . He worked in London, mainly at Drury Lane, from 1772 until his death, first for David Garrick under John French and P. J. de Loutherbourg. After French’s death in 1776, he became chief resident scene painter, and he was later employed by R. B. Sheridan and J. P. Kemble. When Drury Lane was demolished in 1791 he moved with the company to the King’s Theatre, returning to Drury Lane at its reopening in 1794. He also worked during the summer season at Sadler’s Wells (1778–95).

He designed scenery for comic operas as well as plays and pantomimes. His first was The Maid of the Oaks (Barthélemon; 1774) after designs by Loutherbourg, and he was also scenographer for many of Storace’s comic operas including The Haunted Tower (1789), The Siege of Belgrade (1791), The Pirates...

Article

Bertil H. van Boer

(b Dresden, 1758; d Stockholm, March 17, 1795). Swedish composer of German birth. The son of the famous Dresden instrument maker Carl Augustin Grenser, he probably received his early musical training from his father and J. G. Naumann. In 1778 he emigrated to Stockholm as first oboist in the hovkapell, and in 1783 he changed to first flute. In the latter year he became associated with Carl Stenborg’ theatres, for which, like his colleague J. D. Zander, he provided musical arrangements and original operatic works, such as the perennially popular pasticcios Tillfälle gör tjufven (‘Coincidence Makes the Thief’, 1783) and Masqueraden (‘The Masquerade’, 1788), and the Singspiel Slädpartiet (‘The Sledging Party’, 3, C. G. von Holthusen; Stockholm, 28 March 1790; music lost). His musical style tends towards the simplicity of opéra comique and Singspiel, and his orchestration is often fairly heavy, with many rich wind sonorities....

Article

Grimm  

Amanda Glauert

German brothers renowned for their contribution to the literature of the fairy-tale. Jacob Ludwig Grimm (b Hanau, 4 Jan 1785; d Berlin, 20 Sept 1863) and Wilhelm Carl (b Hanau 24 Feb 1786; d Berlin, 16 Dec 1859) both held posts at Göttingen University from 1830, Jacob as a professor of philology and Wilhelm as a librarian; in 1840 they settled in Berlin as members of the Academy of Sciences. In the first edition of their highly popular Kinder- und Hausmärchen of 1812 they professed to have gathered their stories straight from the people and to have presented them in unvarnished form. The direct, folklike quality of the tales particularly attracted librettists and composers in the later 19th century; the genre of Märchenoper, which emerged in the 1880s, was born out of a concern for the essential simplicity of fairy tales. Humperdinck’s setting of Hänsel und Gretel...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Vienna, Sept 27, 1735; d Vienna, July 30, 1764). German playwright. He served as a secretary in the Viennese municipal court during his short life, and wrote a series of successful plays that developed a distinctively Viennese brand of written comedy out of local improvisatory traditions. His lone musical text, the three-act Zauberlustspiel ...

Article

Hans Joachim Marx

(Dorothea Louisa)

(b Hamburg, bap. Oct 21, 1712; d Copenhagen, 1768). German soprano. The daughter of the composer Reinhard Keiser and his wife Barbara, a singer, she made her début at the age of 12 in the part of Amour in Telemann’s version of Destouches’ Omphale. She was employed at the Hamburg Opera, 1724–30, and shared the leading soprano roles with Margaretha Susanna Kayser (the latter was described as ‘Mme Kayser’, Sophia as ‘Mlle Keiser’). From the end of 1738 to the beginning of 1741 she was engaged at the Copenhagen court with a salary of 400 reichsthalers.

Keiser sang principally in her father’s operas (including Cupido, 1724; Die Hamburger Schlacht-Zeit, 1725; and Jodelet, 1726) and in the operas of Telemann, then also musical director of the Hamburg Opera (including Die Amours der Vespetta, Sancio and Das jauchzende Grossbritannien, all 1727; Die verkehrte Welt, 1728; Flavius Bertaridus, 1729; Das neubeglückte Sachsen...

Article

Bertil H. van Boer

(b Floby, Västergötland, Dec 1, 1751; d Stockholm, April 20, 1795). Swedish librettist . He attended Åbo University in Finland, where he began to write poetry and theatre criticism, earning a position as docent in Åbo in 1774. In 1777 he followed his comrade A. N. Edelcrantz to Stockholm, where his poetry attracted the attention of Gustavus III, who engaged him as his personal secretary and entrusted him with versifying his opera sketches. In 1778 Kellgren participated in a polemical debate in the Stockholm newspapers on the aesthetics of opera, during the course of which his views changed from those of a Voltairian to those of an ardent supporter of Gluck. His first opera text, Adonis och Proserpina (1778), was revised in 1781 for J. M. Kraus; the subsequent decade was devoted to a grand opera Aeneas i Cartago (1782–90) and to the Swedish nationalist work ...

Article

Richard Taruskin

(b Pskov, 3/Oct 14, 1742 or 1740; d St Petersburg, 14/Jan 25, 1791). Russian librettist . A neo-classical playwright, poet and translator, his contemporary reputation rested on his tragedies – imitations of Corneille and Metastasio. His main historical contribution however lay in his establishing the verse comedy genre in Russian and in his librettos for early Russian comic operas such as Neschastiye ot karetï (‘Misfortune from a Coach’, 1779, music by Pashkevich), The Miser (1781, music by Pashkevich) and Sbiten’shchik (‘The Hot-Mead Vendor’, 1784, music by Bullant). Adroitly manipulating themes derived from French comedies, both with and without music (Favart, Molière, Sedaine, Beaumarchais), Knyazhnin managed to invest his librettos with enough topicality and local colour to put historians (especially wishful Russian ones) off the scent of his sources for many decades.

A. Rabinovich: Russkaya opera do Glinki [Russian Opera Before Glinka] (Moscow, 1948) R.-A. Mooser...

Article

Patricia Lewy Gidwitz

(fl c1750–c1800). Italian librettist. Attributions to him in contemporary printed librettos attest to his noble Pisan origins. He was educated in Pisa and made his literary career in Florence, then Venice. Composers who set his librettos include Galuppi, Gazzaniga and Martín y Soler. His Arcadian name was Ergesippo Argolida.

Il Muzio Scevola (dm), Masi, 1760 (Galuppi, 1762); Telemaco nell’ isola di Calipso (dramma), G. V. Meucci, 1773; Le cognate in contesa (dg), Zannetti, 1780 (Trento, 1791); L’amante per bisogno (dg), ?Gazzaniga, 1781; La sposa bizzarra (ob), A. Santi, 1781; Il trionfo d’Arianna (dm), Anfossi, 1781; Gli amanti canuti (dg), Anfossi, 1781; Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (dm), ?V. Meucci; In amor ci vuol destrezza (ob), Martín y Soler, 1782; La vergine del sole (dramma), Tritto, 1786 G. G. Bernardi: ‘L’opera comica veneziana del secolo XVIII’, Atti dell’ Accademia virgiliana di Mantova: Mantua 1908 M. Maylender...

Article

Saskia Willaert

revised by Richard G. King and Franco Piperno

(b Florence, fl 1739–89). Italian tenor . He was a singer and actor of unusual ability and a champion of Italian comic opera in the mid-18th century, mentioned in admiring terms by Mozart and Burney. Initially he sang serious roles but from 1741 (Chinzer’s La serva favorita) preferred comedy parts. He was a leading figure in the success of Neapolitan, Roman and Florentine comic opera in Venice between 1743 and 1745, singing with Pietro Pertici, Francesco Baglioni, Grazia Mellini, Pellegrino Gaggiotti and other specialists in the genre. With a company directed by G. F. Crosa, and initially including Pertici and the soprano Anna Maria Querzoli Laschi (whom he married; Luisa Laschi was their daughter), he introduced this repertory to London (1748–50), Brussels (1749) and Amsterdam (1750), and from 1753 he was involved in first performances of many of Goldoni’s commedie per musica...

Article

Philip Weller

(b Joinville, Feb 27, 1709; d after 1780). French baritone (basse-taille). His first roles at the Paris Opéra were Don Carlos and Silvandre (L’Europe galante, 1736 revival), Mars (Castor et Pollux, 1737) and Pan (Cadmus, 1737 revival). His position as third basse-taille, after Chassé and Dun, improved during the former’s absence, 1738–42. He created Ismenor and Teucer in Rameau’s Dardanus (1739), roles that reverted to Chassé in the 1744 revival, when Le Page was relegated to Antenor. In 1740 he sang the title role in Montéclair’s Jephté for the triumphant return of Mlle Lemaure as Iphise, and the following year appeared as Destouches’ Hylas to Lemaure’s Issé. Le Page sang in the first performances of Rameau’s Zaïs (1748, Cindor) and Naïs (1749, Jupiter and Tiresias) and took smaller roles in Zoroastre, Platée and Acante et Céphise. He was married to Mlle Eremans, and retired in ...

Article

(b Sedan, Nov 29, 1733; d Paris, Oct 1786). French soprano . She joined the Paris Opéra in the 1749–50 season and sang minor roles before withdrawing for four years (1753–7) in order to perfect her technique, which she did to prodigious effect. Hers was an agile, light voice of precision and beauty suited more to florid ariettes than to declamatory or passionate roles. La Borde (1780) considered her superior even to Petitpas in this genre, especially when she intertwined with the obbligato flute playing of Félix Rault. She regularly sang in the divertissements of tragédies lyriques, where most of the ariettes were located, but her voice also had a lyric quality and she sang tender or pastoral roles in many revivals. She was Lully’s Oriane (Amadis) and Proserpina (Proserpine), both in 1759; Rameau’s Zélide (Zaïs, 1761), Naïs (...

Article

Peter Branscombe

(b Sesswegen, Livonia [now Latvia], Jan 12, 1751; d Moscow, 13/May 24, 1792). German dramatist, writer and poet . His best known dramas, Der Hofmeister (1774) and Die Soldaten (1774–5), show features of the Sturm und Drang and look forward towards the realism of the late 19th century, even to epic theatre (Brecht adapted Der Hofmeister for the Berliner Ensemble in 1950). Though he continued to write, Lenz’s life from the late 1770s became increasingly dominated by mental instability (sympathetically portrayed in Büchner’s prose study Lenz, 1835–6, published 1839). The most important operatic setting based on Lenz’s plays is B. A. Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten (1958–60, revised 1963–4), for which the composer wrote his own libretto, dividing the stage into five planes of action in the interest of condensing the fragmented structure of the original (in five acts and 34 scenes); it had been preceded in ...

Article

John A. Rice

[Pietro Leopoldo]

(b Vienna, May 5, 1747; d Vienna, March 1, 1792). Holy Roman Emperor, patron of music, third son of Empress Maria Theresa Habsburg and Francis of Lorraine. As a patron Leopold influenced operatic life in both Tuscany, which he ruled as Grand Duke from 1765 to 1790, and Vienna. In Tuscany he hired as virtuosi di camera several leading opera singers, among them Giovanni Manzuoli, Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci and Tommaso Guarducci, and subsidized the performance of several innovatory operas by Traetta, including his masterpiece, Ifigenia in Tauride (1763, Vienna; revived in Florence in 1768). In 1790 Leopold succeeded his brother Joseph II in Vienna and brought with him a taste for Italian opera as it was cultivated in Florence. He undertook a major transformation of the Viennese court opera in 1791, dismissing some of those who had contributed much to Viennese opera during the previous decade (including Lorenzo da Ponte) and hiring singers with whom he had become familiar in Florence. His policies for comic opera are reflected in Cimarosa’s ...

Article

Marita P. McClymonds

( fl Venice, 1773–86). Italian librettist . He wrote comic opera librettos for Venetian theatres between 1773 and 1786 and one work, La cameriera per amore, for Turin in 1774. Although half of his librettos received no revivals or additional settings, many of the rest were celebrated works. La frascatana, set by Paisiello, was the composer’s most frequently performed work, as were Giannina e Bernardone (Cimarosa) and La finta principessa (Alessandri). Gazzaniga counted his setting of La moglie capricciosa among his most successful, as did Anfossi his I viaggiatori felici. The latter, as well as Anfossi’s Le gelosie fortunate, were selected for revivals at Eszterháza. Livigni’s works, typical of drammi giocosi of the time, were sophisticated pieces dealing with gentry and their servants – ordinary people – in amorous imbroglios and intrigues. I viaggiatori felice introduces an Englishman and a Spaniard into the action, while L’innocente fortunata involves Spaniards and Bretons; Il convito...

Article

John A. Rice

(b Iesi or Pesaro, c 1760; d ?Vienna, 1794/5). Italian tenor . After beginning his career with a few comic roles in the early 1780s, he quickly rose to fame as a serious tenor in the mid-1780s with roles in operas by Bertoni, Francesco Bianchi and Tarchi. His triumph in Rome in 1788 was complete, according to Gerber; audiences were ‘full of wonder and enthusiasm’ at his singing. In 1791 he was engaged by Emperor Leopold II as part of a plan to reintroduce opera seria to the Burgtheater in Vienna, and his Viennese début was a great success. Benedetto Frizzi lamented Maffoli’s early death:

Maffoli, who was taken from us in the flower of his youth, deserved the sincerest esteem both for his profound knowledge of harmony and for the grace of his cantabile, and even his nasal voice; even this imperfection, in some adagio passages, gave his voice a pleasing quality. He won the special admiration of the Viennese for several years....