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Article

Patrick O’Connor

(Philibert )

(b Panissières, Dec 14, 1830; d Paris, Sept 29, 1888). French tenor . He made his début in Poitiers in 1849 as Fernand in Donizetti’s La favorite, but when the theatre closed he took to singing in local cafés-concerts. In 1855 he was engaged by Offenbach to be a member of the first company at the Bouffes-Parisiens, and was a great success in the opening performance, Offenbach’s Les deux aveugles; later he created several roles, including Paimpol in Une nuit blanche and Kokikako in Ba-ta-clan. He was then engaged for the Opéra-Comique where he created 12 roles, including those of Simplet in Gautier’s Le mariage extravagant, Aignelet in Bazin’s Maître Pathelin and Xailoun in Offenbach’s Barkouf.

Berthelier was credited with the discovery of Hortense Schneider, who became Offenbach’s greatest female interpreter, and with whom he appeared at the Palais-Royal in Jeune poule et vieux coq (1858). He later appeared at the Variétés, Renaissance, Nouveautés and Gaîté theatres in many roles, including Zappoli in ...

Article

(b Savigliano, Piedmont, 1776; d Bologna, Feb 12, 1854). Italian soprano and teacher. After singing at the age of 11 in a children's performance at the Teatro S Carlino in Naples, she studied with La Barbiera for four years and began her career as an operatic singer. By the time of her marriage to Felice Radicati in 1801, she was already well known in Italy as a prima donna. From 1801 to 1805 she continued to sing in Italy and, according to Schmidl, appeared in Russia in 1803. From 1805 to 1808 the Radicatis were in Germany and Austria; a Munich reviewer praised her in Cimarosa's Gli Orazi (September 1806) as ‘a sensitive, sweet singer with a voice not too strong or brilliant, but pleasant, clear and moving’. In 1809 she sang in the Netherlands on the invitation of Louis Bonaparte, and from 1810 to 1812...

Article

J.B. Steane

(b Stuttgart, Feb 12, 1869; d Bayreuth, Nov 24, 1907). German bass-baritone . He was trained by his father, Heinrich, who was a singer, as was his mother, Marie. In 1889 he made his début at Ulm as the Hermit in Der Freischütz, subsequently appearing in Hamburg, Berlin and Munich. At the Metropolitan he made a successful début in 1899 as Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger, and sang most of the principal Wagnerian bass-baritone roles there and on tour. He sang at Covent Garden first in 1900 and at Vienna in 1902, but his artistic home was Bayreuth, where he sang from 1901 (when he took the title role in the first performance there of Der fliegende Holländer) to 1906. He was much admired by Cosima Wagner, though his few recordings suggest that his ample voice was used in the very ways for which singing at Bayreuth in those years was commonly criticized. He committed suicide, having become a victim of depression on the death of his wife in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Melegnano, nr Milan, July 1, 1881; d Melegnano, Nov 4, 1954). Italian bass . He made his début in 1902 at Pinerolo as Silva (Ernani) and first sang at La Scala in 1905 and at the Colón, Buenos Aires, in 1910. He sang Gurnemanz in the Spanish première of ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Mainz, March 19, 1835; d Berlin, Aug 11, 1900). German baritone. He studied in Karlsruhe and made his début at Hanover in 1856 as Heinrich in Lohengrin. In 1859 he sang Don Carlos in Verdi's Ernani at the Berlin Hofoper and was immediately engaged there, remaining until his retirement in 1897. He sang Valentin in the first Berlin performance of Gounod's Faust (given as Margarethe) in 1863. At the Munich Hofoper he sang Telramund in Lohengrin (1863) and Hans Sachs in the première of Die Meistersinger (1868), repeating the role in the first Berlin performance (1870). He was also Berlin's first Amonasro in Aida (1874) and King Mark in Tristan und Isolde (1876).

Having sung in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the ceremony for laying the foundation stone of the Festspielhaus (1872), Betz sang Wotan at Bayreuth in the first complete ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Fermo, Ascoli Piceno, Sept 20, 1846; d Florence, May 31, 1905). Italian mezzo-soprano . She made her début in 1864 as Bellini’s Romeo at Novara, then appeared in Florence, Genoa, Naples, Lisbon, Buenos Aires and at La Scala, where she created Laura (La Gioconda) in 1876...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, Dec 27, 1765; d nr Venice, Aug 25, 1818). English soprano. On her death, the Gentleman's Magazine described her as ‘the most celebrated vocal performer that England ever produced’, although it was as a child pianist that she first attracted public notice. Her mother was a singer and her father an oboist; she was taught by him, J.C. Bach and J.S. Schroeter and was playing the piano at her mother's benefit concerts from an early age. She first sang in public in March 1775. Her brother Charles, a year younger than her, appeared with her in these concerts and was to be leader of the orchestra for many of her later operatic performances. She composed two sets of piano music before she was 12. She sang at Oxford in July 1783, and that October married her singing teacher, James Billington. They went to Dublin, where she made her début as Eurydice in an adaptation in English of Gluck's ...

Article

David Cummings

(b Magdeburg, Jan 11, 1894; d Berlin, Nov 3, 1932). German soprano . She studied at the Magdeburg Conservatory and the Berlin Musikhochschule. After engagements at Breslau and Regensburg she sang at the Berlin Staatsoper (1920–27). Powerful performances in the dramatic repertory took her to Barcelona, Munich, Hamburg, Mannheim and Vienna. She appeared at the Wagner festival at Zoppot (now Sopot) between ...

Article

Katherine K. Preston

(b Boston, 1824; d Paris, July 1896). American soprano . The daughter of a pianist mother and an Italian violinist, she was the granddaughter and niece respectively of the composers James Hewitt and John Hill Hewitt. In 1843 she and her father travelled to Italy; she studied first with Giuditta Pasta, then with Vaccai, Nani and Lamberti. Later she married a cellist. Her début (as Elvira in Ernani) was in 1847 in Milan; her American début, on 8 December 1847 (as Amina), was with the Astor Place Opera Company in New York. Her reception there was mixed, and she returned to Europe for further study in London and Paris. In 1852 she and her husband travelled to California, where she appeared with great success. The following year she went to Lima with the Lorini Opera Company, and in 1862 was performing in San Francisco with the Bianchi Company. Biscaccianti had a voice of great richness and beauty; she was one of the first American-born singers to enjoy success abroad. She eventually returned to Europe and established herself as a teacher in Milan....

Article

Nicholas Temperley

(b London, Jan 9, 1810; d New York, NY, 18 or March 19, 1884). English soprano. She studied singing with Henry Bishop and made her professional debut in London on 20 April 1831, shortly before her marriage to Bishop on 9 July. Her reputation grew over the decade through various tours and performances with her husband and the harpist nicholas Bochsa . In 1839, she eloped with Bochsa (leaving her husband and three children) and began a long tour of Europe. For the rest of her life “Madame Bishop,” as she was now universally known, traveled almost incessantly, first with Bochsa and, after his death, alone.

In 1847, she and Bochsa arrived in New York, where she made her public debut in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix at the Park Theater on 4 August. A long tour with Bochsa followed, with engagements in Mexico, Cuba, and California; in 1850 she was back in New York, where on ...

Article

Nicholas Temperley

[née Riviere]

(b London, Jan 9, 1810; d New York, 18 or March 19, 1884). English soprano. Her father, Daniel Riviere, was a drawing master of Huguenot descent. She studied the piano with Moscheles and singing with Henry Bishop, entering the RAM as a foundation student in 1824. She soon distinguished herself by her singing, and made her professional début at the Ancient Concerts on 20 April 1831, shortly before her marriage to Bishop on 9 July. During the next few years her reputation quickly grew, especially in the provinces, where she made several tours with her husband and the harpist Nicholas Bochsa. At this time her singing was confined to sacred music and to English songs, including many by her husband. In 1839, however, she began to give ‘dramatic concerts’ with Bochsa in which she sang Italian opera excerpts, first at Dublin, then at Edinburgh, and finally, on 5 July, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London. Four weeks later she eloped with Bochsa to Hamburg (deserting her husband and three children) and began a long tour of the Continent with him. Bochsa had a somewhat unsavoury reputation as a forger and bigamist....

Article

Bertil H. van Boer

(b Stockholm, Aug 10, 1757; d Vaxhälla, March 17, 1810). Swedish actor, singer and librettist . He made his début as an actor as Count Almaviva in Beaumarchais’ play Le barbier de Séville in 1785 at the New Swedish Theatre, where he became well known for his comic roles and original opera librettos, mostly written for Carl Stenborg’s comic opera. In 1790 he became an administrator at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, a position he held until after Gustavus III’s assassination in 1792. In 1794 he turned to publishing in the provincial town of Linköping. During his career he supplied the texts for more than 65 one-act comedies with music, including the Singspiels Födelsedagen (‘The Birthday’, 1790), Fricorpsen eller Dalkarlarne (‘The Free Corps or Men from Dalacarlia’, 1788) and Marknaden (‘The Market Place’, 1792), all with music by Kraus. His tenor voice was considered expressive but fairly weak; his main talent as an actor lay in his satirical portrayals of figures such as Abbé Vogler in the first of the operas named above....

Article

Jean Mary Allan

revised by Ruzena Wood

(b Glasgow, Jan 15, 1859; d Sydney, NSW, Sept 15, 1920). Scottish baritone. He relinquished a post as organist at Anderston United Presbyterian Church, Glasgow, to train as a singer with Alberto Randegger and John B. Welch in London, then in Milan with Domenico Scafati. His London début (Crystal Palace, 30 July 1887) was enthusiastically acclaimed, followed by operatic successes in Britain and America. Real recognition came at the Leeds Festival of 1892, when he sang the role of the Spectre in Dvořák’s The Spectre’s Bride. In constant demand for concerts and oratorios, Black was associated particularly with the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah (1894, Birmingham Festival) and Judas in Elgar’s The Apostles (1903, Birmingham). When the Royal Manchester College of Music was established in 1893 Black was appointed professor of singing. Later, after touring Australia, he settled in New South Wales.

D. Baptie: Musical Scotland Past and Present...

Article

Pamela Weston

[née Meerti]

(b Antwerp, Nov 2, 1817; d Brussels, Nov 6, 1878). Belgian coloratura soprano, wife of Arnold Joseph Blaes. Mendelssohn admired her and engaged her for concerts at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in 1839, 1841 and 1842. She first sang for the Philharmonic Society of London in June 1839. After appearances in Dresden, Prague and Weimar she joined her future husband for a tour of Dutch provinces in 1840. In Russia (1842–3) she sang many times with Rubini, and Liszt played her accompaniments. After her marriage to Joseph Blaes on 21 September 1843 the couple settled in Brussels. A child was born in the following year and Elisa resumed concert tours with her husband, making a speciality of the aria ‘Parto, parto’ with clarinet obbligato from Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito. In 1846 the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire in Paris awarded her their medal. Later she became a teacher....

Article

Scott Alan Southard

(b New York, Oct 27, 1867; d Berlin, Dec 3, 1930). American bass. Educated in New York public schools, Blass entered the Leipzig Conservatory in 1887, planning violin study with Hans Sitt. Found to have an excellent singing voice, he continued instead under Gustav Ewald and then in Frankfurt with Julius Stockhausen. In 1895 Blass debuted at Weimar as Heinrich in Lohengrin, leading to engagements in Germany and at Covent Garden. In 1900 he debuted with the Metropolitan Opera as Herrmann in Tannhäuser. His sole season at Bayreuth was in 1901. Blass sang frequently at the Metropolitan until 1910; he participated in the American première of Parsifal (24 December 1903), the infamous New York première (22 January 1907) of Salome, and Mahler’s début (1 January 1908; Tristan und Isolde). Blass later sang at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin (1913–9), and again with the Metropolitan, singing German opera in English (...

Article

(b Clearfield Co., PA, July 9, 1838; d nr Ashtabula, OH, Dec 29, 1876). American singer and composer of gospel hymns. He was the compiler with I.D. Sankey of Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs (1875). See Gospel music, §I. See also D.W. Whittle, ed.: Memoirs of Philip P. Bliss...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Berlin, April 25, 1788; d Berlin, Nov 2, 1856). German bass-baritone . He studied in Berlin, where he made his début in 1808 at the Hofoper in Winter’s Das unterbrochene Opferfest. He took part in the Berlin première of Spontini’s Olympie (1821) and, at the Berlin Schauspielhaus, created Huldbrant in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Modena, 1800; d Turin, Oct 12, 1850). Italian soprano . She made her début in 1817 at Parma, then sang in Venice, Rome and at La Scala, where in 1826 she sang Vaccai’s Giulietta and the title role in Meyerbeer’s Marguerite d’Anjou. At Naples she sang in five Donizetti premières: Amelia in Elisabetta, o Il castello di Kenilworth (S Carlo) in 1829; Cristina in I pazzi per progetto (Fondo) and Sela in Il diluvio universale (S Carlo) in 1830; La Contessa in Francesca di Foix (S Carlo) and Chiarina in La romanziera e l’uomo nero (Fondo) in 1831. She sang the title role in Rossini’s Matilde di Shabran at the Théâtre Italien, Paris (1832), and Angelina (La Cenerentola) at the King’s Theatre, London (1833). Her other roles included Rosina, Bellini’s Giulietta, Imogene, Elvira, Amina and Norma as well as Donizetti’s Zoraide, Eleanora (...

Article

David Cummings

(Arkad’yevich )

(b Khar’kov, 10/Nov 23, 1874; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], Jan 20, 1958). Russian tenor . He studied in St Petersburg with Ippolit Pryanishnikov. He made his début with the Khar’kov Company in 1899 at St Petersburg, and sang with the Mariinsky Company there (1906–29). Although he visited Paris and London with Dyagilev in ...

Article

Richard LeSueur

(b Port Byron, ny , Feb 6, 1887; d Los Angeles, June 7, 1980). American baritone . He studied at Syracuse University and later in Paris under Jean de Reszke. He made his début as Valentin at the Brooklyn Academy in 1915 and joined the San Carlo Opera Company in ...