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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(bc 1751; d Charleston, sc , Aug 12, 1796). English soprano . She made her début as Diana in Lionel and Clarissa (February 1770, Drury Lane), when the prompter Hopkins noted: ‘A very fine Voice – Aukward & Clumsy figure – Well faced’. She played some romantic leads at first but soon became established as Lucy rather than Polly in The Beggar’s Opera, specializing in lively second-woman parts. She was popular for her singing of spirited songs like ‘A soldier for me’ and ‘Tally ho!’. She last appeared at Drury Lane in December 1786, leaving her children and husband (recently appointed the company’s prompter) to go to North America, where she acted and sang as Mrs Pownall.

BDA LS A. Pasquin [pseud. of J. Williams]: The Children of Thespis, 1 (London, 1786, 13/1792) T. Gilliland: The Dramatic Mirror, 2 (London, 1808) B.G. Jackson: ‘Mary Ann Wrighten Pownall (c1751–1796)’, Women Composers: Music Through the Ages...

Article

Vasil S. Tole

(b Përmet, Albania, May 12, 1924; d Tirana, Albania, April 9, 1992). Albanian opera and folk singer. He was named People’s Artist of Albania in 1975. He was born in a family of traditions in folk music and dance. He spent his childhood in his hometown. In 1943, he joined the guerrillas and became part of the (guerrilla) army music bands. He joined the choir of the Army Ensemble at its creation in 1946. From 1952 to 1955 he studied singing at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Afterwards, he was nominated soloist at the Theatre of Opera in Tirana, where he sang most of his bass-baritone repertory, including the song Për ty atdhe (‘For You Homeland’) by Pjetër Gaci (1931–95), the romance O ju male (‘Oh You Mountains’) by Çesk Zadeja (1927–97), and arias from the cannonic repertory. He made his first recordings of iso-polyphonic songs with ...

Article

J.B. Steane

(b Boston, nr Buffalo, ny, Sept 14, 1869; d Covina, ca, Sept 9, 1947). American soprano. She studied in New York with Theodore Björkston and his wife, who discovered a phenomenal upward range touching e . Further study with Mathilde Marchesi in Paris brought introductions to Saint-Saëns and Massenet, both of whom admired her art, and in ...

Article

Cori Ellison

(b Vancouver, wa, Jan 28, 1918; d Morgantown, WV, April 27, 2008). American soprano. She made her début in Spokane as Nedda. In the early 1940s she was occupied with operetta, radio work and concert tours, becoming one of America’s foremost concert soloists. She sang Ellen Orford in the American première of Peter Grimes at Tanglewood in 1946 and the following year embarked on a world tour with the Bel Canto Trio (also including Mario Lanza and George London). She first sang at the New York City Opera in 1948 as Violetta and remained with the company until 1959, singing roles including Countess Almaviva, Eva, Marguerite and Micaëla. In the 1950s she made débuts in Barcelona, Edinburgh, London (as Mimì at Covent Garden in 1953), Munich, Verona and Vienna. Her Metropolitan début was in 1961 as Chrysothemis, and she remained with the company for three seasons, also singing Gutrune and Violetta....

Article

(b Malïy Nesvetay, nr Novocherkassk, 8/Nov 20, 1867; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], Nov 21, 1943). Russian tenor. He studied in Moscow and with S. W. Gabel in St Petersburg, where he made his début as Faust in 1893. There followed a period of training in Italy, with performances at Turin and Reggio Emilia. Back in Russia, he sang for a season at Kharkiv, then in 1895 rejoined the Mariinsky at St Petersburg where he remained until 1929. There he became known as ‘the Russian Tamagno’, specializing in heroic parts such as Otello, Florestan and the heroes of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots and Le prophète, as well as in a comprehensive Wagnerian repertory in which his Tannhäuser was particularly admired. In 1895 he created the roles of Vakula in Christmas Eve by Rimsky-Korsakov and Orestes in Taneyev’s Orestaya. In 1902 he sang Valery in the first performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Mount Lawley, Western Australia, Oct 13, 1951). Australian baritone . He studied in Perth and made his début in Sydney in 1976 as Paolo (Simon Boccanegra) with Australian Opera, for whom he also sang Masetto, Sharpless, Germont, Don Pasquale, Alberich, Yeletsky, Don Alfonso, Sulpice, Varlaam, Grigory (The Bear), Michonnet and Melitone; at Melbourne he sang Pizarro and the Dutchman. He made his European début at Frankfurt in 1989 as Bottom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and for the ENO he has sung Escamillo, Mozart’s Figaro, Alcibiades, which he created in Stephen Oliver’s Timon of Athens (1991), and Cadmus in the première of John Buller’s Bakxai (1992). After his Covent Garden début (1990) as William Tell, he returned as Rossini’s Dr Bartolo and the four villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann (1992). He also sang Leporello at Glyndebourne (...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

[Nadezhda]

(b Kaunas, April 1, 1868; d St Petersburg, 21 June/July 4, 1913). Lithuanian soprano. She studied at St Petersburg and made her début in 1893 at Kiev, then sang at Tbilisi and St Petersburg. She was engaged by the Mamontov opera company, Moscow (1897–1904), where she sang in many of the first performances of Rimsky-Korsakov’s operas, including the part of Marfa in The Tsar’s Bride (1899), the Swan Princess in The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1900) and the Princess in Kashchey the Deathless (1902). An engagement at the Bol’shoy (1904–11) followed. Her roles included Micaëla, Nedda, Desdemona, Marguerite, Elsa and Elisabeth, as well as Tatyana and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Volkhova (Sadko) and Snow Maiden. In 1907 she created Sirin in the première of that composer’s Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. Married to the painter Mikhail Vrubel, a stage designer for the Mamontov company, she had a full, vibrant voice that was particularly suited to Russian music....

Article

David Cummings

(b Horna Krupa, March 8, 1873; d Berlin, April 24, 1931). Hungarian baritone. He studied in Budapest with Adele Passy-Cornet and made his début at Czernowitz (now Chernovtsy) in 1898, as Count Almaviva in Figaro. In 1907 he created the part of the Dark Fiddler in A Village Romeo and Juliet (Berlin, Komische Oper). He sang at Elberfeld, Prague and the Komische Oper, Berlin, until 1911, appearing at Dresden from 1911 to 1916. Between 1906 and 1910 he was heard at Covent Garden as Alberich in the Ring cycles conducted by Richter, and as the Father in Hänsel und Gretel. He conducted as well as sang at the Budapest National Opera (1916–19) and appeared in North America with the German Opera Company (1922–4). Further engagements took him to Paris, Milan, Vienna and the Wagner festival at Zoppot (now Sopot). In 1908 he recorded Valentin’s music in ...

Article

Noël Goodwin

(b Waging, Nov 13, 1942). German conductor . He was a member of the Regensburg Boys’ Choir, and studied conducting in Munich and Essen and with Swarowsky in Vienna, as well as with Kertész, Karajan and Maderna. He won international prizes in Rome and Milan and worked at opera houses in Salzburg, Kiel and Darmstadt, 1967–73. After working as chief conductor of the Austrian RSO, 1982–5, he was music director at the Paris Opéra, 1986–8, where he conducted the première of Höller’s Der Meister und Margarita (1989), in which his expert direction of a complex score was much admired. He is also noted for Berg’s Wozzeck and Lulu, and his close connection with contemporary works (including Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten) extends to the Ensemble InterContemporain in Paris and the London Sinfonietta. His British opera début was with the Glyndebourne Touring Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro (1984...

Article

Carlo Vitali

[‘Il Carlino di Ratta’]

(b? Bologna, Oct 15, 1657; d Bologna, May 22, 1704). Italian soprano castrato . The son of a city land-surveyor, he became a member of the Bologna Accademia Filarmonica in 1681 and sang in the S Petronio choir (1682–8). His first documented operatic appearance was at Pratolino in 1684; he later claimed to have been in the service of Ferdinando de’ Medici there for 19 years (he was a virtuoso familiare) and to have sung in the leading Venetian and Roman theatres, as well as in Livorno during 12 carnivals. He is known to have sung in Reggio Emila and Genoa in the 1680s and at the Capranica, Rome, in 1695–6 in works by Mancia and Stradella. His nickname refers to his patron, senator Francesco Ratta.

He should not be confused with the Bolognese contralto Carlo Antonio Zanatti or Zanatta, a member of the Academia Filarmonica and also active somewhat later at S Petronio and at the Teatro del Cocomero, Florence, nor with the soprano castrato and composer Nicolò Giovanardi (...

Article

David Cummings

(b Dordrecht, Aug 2, 1855; d The Hague, Jan 10, 1946). Dutch mezzo-soprano. She studied in Cologne with Carl Schneider and in Milan with Francesco Lamperti. After her début in Turin as Léonor in La favorite (1875), she appeared in Breslau and at Kassel during Mahler’s season there (...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Voitswinkel, Laufen, June 7, 1856; d Weimar, Aug 9, 1934). German tenor. His voice was discovered by Richard Strauss, who arranged for him to study in Munich. He was then engaged at Weimar, making his début in 1888 as Lohengrin. At Bayreuth (1891–2) he sang Tannhäuser, Heinrich der Schreiber, Melot and an Esquire in ...

Article

David Cummings

(b Monte Carlo, 1885; d ?Monte Carlo, after 1920). Italian soprano. She sang in Venice from 1902, notably in Chopin by Giacomo Orefice and in the title role of Massenet’s Cendrillon (1905). In 1907 she appeared at the Teatro Regio, Parma, and at Covent Garden as Musetta and in Giordano’s ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Baden-Baden, July 26, 1822; d Winterbach, Dec 14, 1881). German soprano . She studied in Paris and made her début in 1839 in Karlsruhe as Amina (La sonnambula). In 1846 she was engaged at the Vienna Hofoper, making her début as Lucia and creating the title role of Flotow’s ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Atlanta, Sept 4, 1951). American mezzo-soprano. She took part in the Santa Fe Apprentice Program (1978–9), then sang Maddalena at St Louis and Meg Page at Washington, DC. She made her European début in 1981 at Bonn as Dorabella, then sang Octavian, Cherubino, Berlioz’s Marguerite and Adalgisa. In ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Fagnano, Udine, Nov 11, 1864; d Havana, Jan 1901). Italian soprano . She made her début in 1887 at Ferrara as Paolina (Poliuto) and in 1889 first sang at La Scala as Camille (Zampa). There she created Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff (1893...

Article

Harold Rosenthal

(b Meissen, Nov 29, 1892; d Berlin, Feb 24, 1968). German tenor . He studied in Dresden, where he made his début in 1918. Engagements in Dortmund, Brunswick and Leipzig followed; from 1925 to 1931 he was a member of the Staatsoper in Munich, and from 1931 to 1934...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Buenos Aires, Aug 1942). Argentine mezzo-soprano. She studied in Buenos Aires, making her début in 1977 at the Teatro Colón as Gluck’s Orpheus, then singing Carmen and Ulrica at the Landestheater, Salzburg. She made her American début at Miami in 1979 as Delilah and her Covent Garden début in 1980 as Cherubino, and sang Rosina at San Francisco (1982). She has sung in Brussels, Naples, Madrid, Bologna, Venice, Geneva, Rome, Lyons and Paris. Her repertory includes Juno (Cavalli’s Ercole amante), Purcell’s Dido, Handel’s Agrippina and Julius Caesar, Dorabella, Idamantes, Zerlina, Sextus, Rosina (Haydn’s La vera costanza), Andromache (Ermione), Fricka and Lola. She created the title role of Piazzolla’s Maria di Buenos Aires (1987, Turcoing). Her beautiful, warm-toned voice, not large but well-projected, is particularly effective in French music: Berlioz’s Marguerite and Dido, and Massenet’s Charlotte, Dulcinée and Thérèse are among her finest roles, while she sang the Old Prioress (...

Article

David Cummings

(b Mobile, al , Aug 17, 1949). American soprano. She studied with Elena Nikolaidi at Florida State University and made her début at the Houston Opera in 1975, as Donna Elvira. She has appeared widely in North America as Fiordiligi and Pamina, and as Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Amberg, Bavaria, March 31, 1828; d Weimar, Oct 16, 1899). German bass-baritone . He made his début in 1855 at Nuremberg and was then engaged at Hamburg, Hanover and, in 1865, at the Munich Hofoper, where he remained until 1880. He sang King Mark in the first performance of ...