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Philip Weller

(bc 1695; d Paris, Jan 14, 1761). French haute-contre . He made his début at the Paris Opéra as the Sun in the 1721–2 revival of Lully’s Phaëton, and during the same run was promoted to sing the title role in place of Muraire. He created the title role in Desmarets’ Renaud (1722) and in Lully revivals sang Attis (1725), Bellerophon (1728), Amadis (1731, to the rapturously received Oriane of Mlle Lemaure) and Mercury (Isis, 1732), before creating Ammon in Montéclair’s Jephté (1732). In 1734 he took Pylades (Desmarets and Campra’s Iphigénie en Tauride) while the role of a Triton was sung by the young Jélyotte, whose meteoric rise to prominence overtook the end of Tribou’s career. Yet Tribou created Castor in Castor et Pollux (1737), participated in the première of Les Indes galantes and sang Perseus in ...

Article

Colin Timms and John Rosselli

[Nicola]

(fl 1685–1727). Italian singer (alto or soprano). He came from Gallipoli where his brother, Bonaventura, was a cathedral canon and a singing teacher; they may have been the sons of the composer Giuseppe Tricarico, who was also from Gallipoli. In his early career Nicolò seems to have sung comic parts, appearing at Modena in 1685 in M. A. Ziani’s Alcibiade; a contemporary caricature of him by A. Zanetti (reprinted in COJ, i, 1989, p.31) clearly shows him as a comic singer. In 1687 and again in 1694 he was paid for occasional appearances at St Mark’s, Venice. Three years later he sang in Perti and Sabadini’s Furio Camillo at Parma, and between 1711 and 1716 he performed, apparently as primo uomo, in four operas at Venice. He was described there as a ‘virtuoso’ of the Duke of Mantua, and it was at Mantua that he made his last known appearance – in Vivaldi’s ...

Article

Noël Goodwin

(b Naples, Dec 21, 1940). Italian bass-baritone . He began as an actor, and then studied singing at the Naples Conservatory and with Gino Campese, making his début in 1964 at La Fenice, Venice, as Belcore (L’elisir d’amore). Other engagements quickly followed, including La Scala and S Carlo, and he first sang abroad with the Scala company in Moscow and Leningrad. His British début was at the 1972 Edinburgh Festival, with the Teatro Massimo company from Palermo, as Baron Valdeburgo in La straniera, followed by Bartolo and Melitone at Covent Garden in 1975. He has appeared at the New York Metropolitan, Chicago Lyric Opera and San Francisco, and sang the Salieri and Verdi Falstaffs in the same season at Parma (1986–7). He is admired for musicality as well as comedy in buffo roles, and has recorded roles in nearly 20 operas, notably Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore...

Article

(b Warsaw, Aug 26, 1823; d Warsaw, March 2, 1887). Polish bass . Son of the piano maker Wilhlem Troszel of Warsaw, he studied with August Freyer and others. He made his début at Warsaw on 17 April 1843 as Rodolphe in Auber’s Le lac des fées and sang at the Warsaw Opera until 1865. Particularly noted for his interpretations of bass roles in operas by Minchejmer, Dobrzyński and Moniuszko (creating the roles of Stolnik in Halka, 1858, and Zbigniew in The Haunted Manor, 1865), and in German and Italian operas, he was also a fine recital singer. After retiring from concert and operatic work in 1866, Troszel devoted himself to composition and teaching. He wrote a tutor, Szkoła do śpiewu na głos sopranowy i mezzosopranowy (Warsaw, 1860), and a book of vocal exercises for women’s voices (Warsaw, n.d.), as well as composing over 50 songs and some church music....

Article

David Cummings

revised by Irina Boga

(b Bărăştii de Vede, Romania, June 24, 1913; d October 28, 1979). Romanian tenor. He enrolled in 1932 at the ‘George Enescu’ Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Iaşi (professors Antonin Ciolan, Alexandru Zirra, Mihail Codreanu, Constantin Georgescu, and Agatha Bârsescu) and made his début there in ...

Article

Svetlana Sarkisyan

(b Erevan, Aug 3, 1958). Armenian bass . He studied in Erevan, where he made his début with the Spendiaryan Opera in 1980 in the title role of Armen Tigranyan’s David-Bek. After further study at La Scala and in Moscow with Yevgeny Nesterenko, he won the Busseto Verdi Prize (...

Article

David Cummings

revised by Irina Boga

(b Bucharest, Romania, March 27, 1911; d Bucharest, June 26, 1995). Romanian soprano. She studied at the Bucharest Conservatory with Elena Saghin and Demetru Baziliu. Her début on the stage of the National Opera as Margareta in Faust qualifies her as ‘a revelation, a new and precious talent’. After this performance, she was immediately appointed by George Georgescu as soloist of the Opera. From 1939 she sang at the Bucharest Opera as Marguerite, Leonora (Il trovatore), Tosca, Elsa, and Rachel in La Juive. After wartime appearances at the Vienna Volksoper she opened the 1946–7 season at La Scala, as Abigaille in Nabucco. Other roles in Milan (until 1949) and in Naples, Bologna, Venice, and Rome included La Gioconda, Turandot, Aida, and Norma. She sang in North America during the 1950s, notably in New York (City Opera) and Philadelphia. After returning to Romania in 1963 she gave concerts and taught. Upon her return to Romania, she was forced to have a review audition at the Bucharest Opera to gain the right to sing again on stage. She collaborated with the Cluj and Iaşi Opera. In the last period of her life she was subjected to a complete ban by the communist regime. In ...

Article

Dennis Libby and Carlo Vitali

(b Florence, c1700; d after 1763). Italian mezzo-soprano. She sang in opera at Florence and Siena in 1717 but began a sustained career only in 1720, appearing in all the main centres and commanding a large salary; she sang in Venice in 1721–2, 1731–2 and 1742–3, and in Naples in 1727 and 1732–5. She seems to have been primarily a dramatic singer in a mostly syllabic style (range approximately b ♭ to g ″), without much brilliance or bravura; evidence from arias written for her by G. B. Pescetti and Francesco Corselli, however, shows that she could master elaborate coloratura, rhythmically complex divisions and wide pitch leaps. Her last Italian engagements in 1745–6 were in secondary centres (Crema, Ferrara), suggesting vocal decline; she then sang with the Mingotti company in Germany and Copenhagen and was described as ‘a monstrous mass of flesh, who accompanies every syllable with a grimace or emphatic gesture’. She was a member of the Bayreuth court opera (...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Dinuba, ca , Oct 28, 1920). American contralto. She studied at San Francisco, making her début there in 1942 as the voice of a boy in L’amore dei tre re. In 1946, after further study in New York, she created Baba (Madame Flora) in The Medium at Columbia University and made her Metropolitan début as Marthe (Faust), returning as La Frugola (Il tabarro), Zita (Gianni Schicchi), the Princess (Suor Angelica) and Amneris. At New York City Opera she sang Baba (1952) and took part in the première of Copland’s The Tender Land (1954). Her roles at Chicago (1955–7) included the Matron from Milwaukee (Banfield’s Lord Byron’s Love Letter), Fricka, Azucena and Ulrica. She sang Madame de Croissy in Dialogues des Carmélites at San Francisco (1957) and Baroness Grünwiesel in Der junge Lord...

Article

Gilles Potvin

(b Montreal, Dec 20, 1925; d Montreal, Feb 25, 1991). Canadian tenor . He studied in Montreal with Edouard J. Woolley and Frank H. Rowe, and was later awarded a scholarship to Italy. He made his stage début in 1950 singing operettas with the Montreal Variétés Lyriques company. In 1956 he sang in New Orleans and in 1959 appeared with the Montreal SO in Cherubini’s Médée opposite Eileen Farrell. His New York début was also that year, in Offenbach’s La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein. He made his Covent Garden début in 1960 as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor opposite Joan Sutherland. He sang a wide variety of roles there, mainly French and Italian, and also performed elsewhere in Britain, in France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium, South America and Canada. Among his most successful roles were Don José, Don Carlos, Werther and Hoffmann, which he sang in 1973 with the New York City Opera. His voice had an appealing lyric quality and he was also a fine dramatic singer. From ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Stockholm, Feb 27, 1928; d April 2, 2012). Swedish bass. After studying in Stockholm, he made his début in 1955 as Bartolo with the Royal Swedish Opera, of which he was a member for 30 years. He created the commander Chefone in Blomdahl’s Aniara, repeating the part at Edinburgh (1959) and Covent Garden (1960), the title role of Blomdahl’s Herr von Hancken (1965) and Reuterholm in Werle’s Tintomara (1973). In 1978 he created the role of Astradamors in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre. He sang frequently at Drottningholm and his repertory included many comic roles, such as Buonafede (Il mondo della luna), Don Alfonso, Leporello, Don Magnifico, Don Pasquale, Rocco, Daland, Falstaff and Ochs; but he sang Seneca, Sarastro, Wotan, King Mark, Gurnemanz, the Grand Inquisitor and the four villains (Les contes d’Hoffmann) with equal success. A superb actor with a moderate-sized but well-projected voice, he excelled in characterizations such as the Doctor in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Paris, Dec 3, 1829; d Paris, July 19, 1910). French soprano . She studied in Paris with Cinti-Damoreau and made her début in 1848 at the Opéra-Comique as Angèle in Auber’s Le domino noir, a role created by her teacher. In 1851 she sang at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, as Delilah in Auber’s ...

Article

David Cummings

(b Matzleinsdorf, nr Vienna, April 2, 1928; d Munich, May 21, 2001). Austrian tenor . After study with Elisabeth Rado in Vienna, he made his début at Graz in 1950. Appearances in Lucerne and Oberhausen were followed by an engagement at the Munich Opera, where he sang from 1957...

Article

Fredric Woodbridge Wilson

(b Boston, June 23, 1862; d Aug 13, 1932). American soprano . She began her career in autumn 1879 as a leading soprano with the Boston Ideal Opera Company, where her repertory included roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Her connection with D’Oyly Carte’s opera company began in July 1885, when she auditioned for Sullivan and was engaged to play Yum-Yum in Carte’s New York Mikado. She remained with the company on its return to England and subsequent visit to Berlin. In May 1887 she replaced Leonora Braham at the Savoy Theatre as Rose Maybud in Ruddigore, making a favourable impression. Thereafter Ulmar sang leading soprano parts at the Savoy, including Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard (1888) and Gianetta in The Gondoliers (1889). She left Carte in 1890 to appear in Audran’s La cigale et la fourmi at the Lyric Theatre, where she was re-engaged to play Teresa in Gilbert’s ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b 10/Feb 22, 1847; d Yalta, 10/Aug 23, 1913). Russian tenor . He studied in St Petersburg and in 1880 was engaged at the Bol’shoy Theatre, Moscow. He sang Lensky in the first professional performance of Yevgeny Onegin (1881); he created Andrey in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Stara Zagora, Dec 10, 1922; d Vienna, Dec 11, 1985). Bulgarian tenor . He studied in Sofia, making his début there in 1947 as Werther. Early roles included Rodolfo, Don José, Lensky and Grigory. He appeared at the Bol’shoy (1952), the Paris Opéra, La Scala and the Metropolitan (...

Article

Cori Ellison

(b Delano, ca , Oct 19, 1934). American soprano. The daughter of Swiss and Italian immigrants, she began vocal studies with Chester Hayden and later worked with Lotte Lehmann in Santa Barbara. She attended the Curtis Institute (1955–60), where she was a pupil of Singher, and from 1968 studied with Harshaw. In 1960 she won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and two years later made her début in Freiburg as Pamina, a role which also served for her débuts in Santa Fe, Strasbourg, Zürich and at the Metropolitan Opera (1973). She subsequently appeared at the Metropolitan as Susanna, Countess Almaviva, Nannetta, Ilia, Gilda (on tour) and Almirena in Rinaldo. Though best known as an interpreter of Mozart and Handel, she has also enjoyed success as Anne Trulove, Antonia, Eurydice, Liù, Marguerite, Mélisande, Mimì and Violetta in Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Washington, DC, and elsewhere. Her European engagements have included ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

[Frank; Dinhaupt, Francis]

(b Denver, co , Jan 6, 1907; d New York, June 14, 1991). American baritone . He studied in Denver and Milan, making his début in 1930 at Parma as Germont. He sang at La Scala and the Rome Opera and in 1938 was Verdi’s Macbeth at Glyndebourne. He took part in the first performances of Frazzi’s ...

Article

J.B. Steane

(b Écijha, Dec 6, 1852 or 1854; d St Petersburg, Feb 1914). Spanish tenor . Sometimes known as ‘the little Gayarre’, he studied with Julián Gayarre’s teacher, Melchiorre Vidal, and later with the younger Manuel Garcia. He made his début at the Teatro Real, Madrid, in 1878, his first roles there including Lorenzo in Fra Diavolo and Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles, which he also sang at the opera’s Italian première. After two years in the Italian provinces he appeared at La Scala as Faust in 1883. Guest performances in Berlin, St Petersburg and London followed, and the great event of his career occurred at Florence in 1890 when he sang Turiddu in the première of Cavalleria rusticana. From then on he was in demand wherever the opera was given, and sang in the premières in Milan, Palermo, New York and other American cities. At Covent Garden he appeared in his most famous role for a single performance, in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Sääksmäki, nr Vakeakoski, Oct 25, 1926; d Helsinki, April 27, 2011). Finnish soprano . She studied in Helsinki, making her début there with the National Opera in 1955. She sang in Stockholm, Prague and London, where she made her Covent Garden début in 1961 as Brünnhilde. She sang the same role at the Metropolitan (...