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Article

Xoán M. Carreira

(b Somma, c 1730; d Bilbao, c 1774). Italian impresario and bass . Active in the Iberian peninsula, he directed a Neapolitan opera company taken to Barcelona by the Marqués de Mina. Its first performance, Auletta’s pasticcio Il maestro di cappella, was in the Captain General’s palace in 1750. The company staged Pergolesi’s La serva padrona at the Teatro de la Santa Cruz (with Setaro singing) and gave premières of three works by the company’s maestro di cappella, Giuseppe Scolari. Leaving part of the company in Barcelona under Giuseppe Ambrosini, Setaro took the others to Jerez de la Frontera (1753) and Puerto de Santa Maria (1753–4), but because of legal difficulties his singers returned to Barcelona.

In 1761 a Setaro company, including many of Nicolà’s family and colleagues, performed in Cádiz and Seville. Nicolà was active as impresario at the Teatro do Corpo da Guarda, Oporto, from ...

Article

(b Dresden, 1738; d Schleswig, Nov 22, 1789). German actress and writer. At the end of an unhappy childhood she took to the stage. In 1754 she married the actor Hensel, but they separated three years later. She worked with various troupes and appeared several times in Vienna. After the collapse of the Hamburg Nationaltheater, she took up with the impresario Abel Seyler in 1769, and married him three years later, by which time she was recognized as Germany’s foremost tragedienne. Lessing praised her passionate and majestic acting at Hamburg, and Benda and F. W. Gotter wrote their chilling melodrama Medea to set off her skills in 1775. At the end of her career she wrote a five-act libretto Hüon und Amande, based on Wieland’s epic poem Oberon and set by the Schleswig music director Karl Hanke in 1789. The text was adapted for Paul Wranitzky shortly thereafter by Gieseke as ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

[Ned]

(b London, ? 1728; d London, Nov 1, 1776). English actor and singer. Creator of the roles of Mr Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer and Sir Anthony Absolute in The Rivals, he was described by Garrick as the greatest comic genius he had ever seen. He sang well enough to be given roles in several English operas. Dibdin wrote that ‘nothing upon earth could have been superior to his Midas’ (in the burletta of that name) and he was the first Justice Woodcock in ...

Article

Robert Lamar Weaver

(b Florence, Aug 1756; d after 1798). Italian librettist and dramatist . He decided to be a poet and actor, but became blind and was forced to dedicate himself to singing and writing poetry. His earliest known dramas were spoken tragedies. His prose comedy Il conte villano of 1787 was later adapted for music by Foppa under the title Un pazzo ne fa cento and was set by Mayr (1796) and Paer (1812). Beginning with the intermezzo L’autunno (1788), he subsequently wrote stage works exclusively for Florence which were set to music mainly by Tuscan composers. They embrace comic operas, intermezzos and farces and were mostly small-scale dramas designed for the minor theatres – the Cocomero, Piazza Vecchia and Borgo Ognissanti. In 1797 he wrote Il medico burlato and Il padre fanatico for the more august Intrepidi theatre. More than any other librettist working in Florence in this period, he typified the clever, humane and sentimental comedy of the Tuscan school. He may have retired in the face of the upheavals of the first French invasion of Tuscany of ...

Article

Dennis Libby

(b Rome, c1735; d after 1778). Italian soprano. She sang in opera buffa at Venice in 1752–3 but rose to prima donna in opera seria at Florence in Carnival 1754 and was then engaged in leading Italian theatres up to Carnival 1772, reappearing at Faenza in Carnival ...

Article

Sergio Durante

[‘La Santini’ ]

(fl 1703–41; d Sept 18, 1759). Italian soprano. Originally from Venice or Bologna, she was one of the most famous singers of her generation. From 1706 to 1714 her name appears in librettos as a virtuosa of the Duke of Mantua, but she is not listed among those who received salaries from Duke Ferdinando Carlo, who died in 1708. She married the composer Antonio Lotti and travelled with him around Europe. She performed at Casale Monferrato (1703 and, in 1704, in the title role of Il gran Pompeo), in Genoa (1704, 1705), and in Pavia (1705). She sang in many productions in Venice at the S Cassiano and S Giovanni Grisostomo theatres, 1706–8, and may also have appeared in London as prima donna in 1709. From 1710 she was again in Venice, and from 1711 to 1714 she sang only in the principal theatre in leading roles. After appearances in Parma in ...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(fl 1749–63). Italian librettist. He was called to Berlin by Frederick II to serve as court poet on the death of Leopoldo de Villati in July 1752. At first the king sketched out in French prose the entire texts of the librettos that Tagliazucchi fashioned for the court opera. For Il tempio d’amore and I fratelli nemici his contributions grew less detailed. In the preface to his first libretto for Berlin, Silla (1753), Tagliazucchi related that Frederick was responsible for the substance of the text, to which he simply ‘gave the adornment of Italian theatrical poetry’. With the advent of the Seven Years War in 1756 Tagliazucchi left Berlin. He worked with Jommelli on two occasional pieces for Ludwigsburg in 1763, after which nothing is known of his whereabouts.

Mario in Numidia, Rinaldo di Capua, 1749; Silla (drama per musica, with Frederick II, after J.-F. Duché de Vancy: ...

Article

Robert Lamar Weaver

(b Florence; fl 1763–81). Italian librettist. He was resident poet at the Cocomero Theatre in Florence during the 1770s. His first libretto was also his most popular, attaining 35 recorded productions: La contadina in corte. It received its première in Venice (S Moisè, Carnival 1763) in a setting by Giacomo Rust. The text has been tentatively attributed to ‘G. Gozzi’ (ES, The New Grove) and Goldoni (in a libretto for Warsaw, 1765), but Tassi’s authorship is clearly stated by the Gazzetta toscana (1777). Tassi reduced his original dramma giocoso to an intermezzo for a new setting by Sacchini for Rome, 1765, but re-expanded it for Lucca, 1768, again for Sacchini. Anfossi composed a setting of the full dramma giocoso as La contadina incivilita for Venice, 1775, and as Il principe di Lago Nero for Florence, 1777. Yet another setting with the last followed, this time by Paisiello for Casale, ...

Article

Dennis Libby and John Rosselli

(b Ronciglione, c 1715; d ?Ronciglione, 1787). Italian alto castrato . A pupil of Bernacchi, he sang in opera seria from 1732 to 1738, mostly in female roles, exclusively in Rome, where he was in the service of Prior Vaini. He then sang throughout Italy; he was probably the ‘Tedeschino, contralto’ listed at Bayreuth in ...

Article

[Jean Antoine ]

( fl 1755–92). French choreographer and dancer . His activities were concentrated in Venice, where he produced ballets for more than three dozen operas between 1755 and 1792. Much of his work was for the Teatro S Moisè during the 1770s and 80s, in operas by Traetta, Guglielmi, Bertoni, Astarita and Anfossi, among others, but he also created ballets for the S Samuele (1755–6, 1760, 1780–81), S Benedetto (1760, 1768–9), S Cassiano (1765, 1791–2), and S Salvatore (1767) theatres. In addition he worked as a dancer and choreographer in a number of other Italian cities, including Pistoia (1755, 1767), Rome (1757, 1761, 1778), Parma (1761), Reggio Emilia (1763), Milan (1766) and Turin (1778–9). About 1760 he married the ballerina Anna Conti-Nadi de Sales (detta la Russiene), and apparently adopted her son Federico Nadi. Federico worked at opera houses in Italy from the mid-1760s to the early 90s, often in productions with his parents; in ...

Article

Dennis Libby

(b ?Iesi; fl 1747–71). Italian soprano castrato . He sang a female role in a comic opera in Rome in Carnival 1747 but did not begin a sustained career until Carnival 1753 at Bologna as secondo uomo in opera seria. From 1753 he was primo uomo at the Mannheim court, singing in operas by Holzbauer, Traetta and Majo, and he also appeared in Rome in Carnival ...

Article

Graham Hardie

[Partenio Chriter; Terentio Chirrap]

(b Naples, June 11, 1702; d Naples, Feb 12, 1755). Italian librettist. He wrote prose comedies, librettos for comic operas and texts for cartelli (carnival songs). A notary by profession, Trinchera began his literary career with the prose comedy La moneca fauza in 1726 (the existence of three modern editions suggests a revival of interest in the work). Influenced probably by Gerolamo Gigli’s Don Pilone and Molière’s Tartuffe, this attack on religious hypocrisy was taken up again in the comic opera La tavernola abentorosa (1741), whose protagonist roams the countryside in the guise of the hermit Fra Macario. The opera incurred the displeasure of the ecclesiastical authorities, and Trinchera was imprisoned. After his release in January 1742, he did not resume his theatrical activity until 1744, with Ciommetella correvata. In 1747 Trinchera became impresario of the Teatro dei Fiorentini, and while the ensuing years were productive for his writing, the theatre continued to lose money, forcing him to declare bankruptcy. He was again imprisoned, and committed suicide in ...

Article

Michael Talbot

Italian noble family of theatre proprietors . For over 250 years members of the S Fosca branch of the Vendramin family were proprietors of the Venetian theatre known both as S Salvatore after a neighbouring church and as S Luca after the parish in which it was situated. The original house was built in 1622 but was substantially reconstructed after a fire in 1653 and again in 1776. Under Andrea Vendramin (d 1684) S Luca at first presented only spoken comedy, but between 1661 and 1700 it was turned over to opera during Carnival, achieving a level of activity surpassed only by S Giovanni Grisostomo. After Andrea’s death, control passed successively to his son Alvise (d 1733) and grandson Antonio (d 1756). During the 18th century S Luca reverted largely to comedy, although between 1753 and 1769 it presented serious operas during Ascension. In the 19th century opera and comedy enjoyed greater parity. The family’s connection with S Luca ended in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Rome, c1765; d Parma, Aug 1822). Italian bass. He made his début about 1790. From 1800 to 1816 he sang at La Scala, where in 1814 he took the part of Don Magnifico in Pavesi’s Agatina (a version of the Cinderella story). In 1817 he sang the same role in the first performance of Rossini’s ...

Article

Robert Lamar Weaver

[Jacopo]

(b Arezzo, c1730; d Florence, after 1797). Italian soprano castrato. He first sang innamorato roles in comic operas, appearing at the Teatro dei Nobili in Perugia in 1751 while in the service of Duke Salviati, and in Pietro Pertici’s famous comic company at the Cocomero, Florence, in 1752 and 1753. Later in 1753 he turned to serious opera at the Teatro delle Dame, Rome (Publius in Jommelli’s Attilio Regolo and Masinissa in Galuppi’s Sofonisba). Over the next few years he sang in the major houses of Italy, most frequently at S Carlo in Naples, the Grande in Siena and the Pergola in Florence; at the last he sang the title role in Galuppi’s L’arrivo d’Enea nel Lazio to celebrate the arrival in Florence of the new grand duke, Pietro Leopoldo (14 November 1765). The following year the grand duke appointed him ‘virtuoso della Real Cappella, e di Corte’, and at his direct command Veroli sang at the Pergola in Tommaso Traetta’s ...

Article

Rebecca Green

( fl Naples, 1744–67). Italian librettist , also known by the anagram Liviano Lantino. One of a host of less important librettists working in Naples, he is known to have written eight comic opera librettos between 1744 and 1767. According to Albert Schatz, quoted in Sonneck’s Catalogue of Opera Librettos Printed before 1800...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b 1701; d Berlin, July 9, 1752). Italian librettist active in Austria and Germany . After writing several oratorio texts in Vienna, 1725–9, he supplied librettos to G. B. Ferrandini and Pietro Torri in the early 1730s for the Munich court. He was called to Berlin by Frederick II in 1747 at a salary of 400 thalers to replace G. G. Bottarelli, who had been dismissed earlier that year. Between then and his death in 1752 Villati supplied Frederick’s Kapellmeister, Carl Heinrich Graun, with 13 librettos. G. E. Lessing’s Nachricht von dem gegenwärtigen Zustand des Theaters in Berlin found ‘little invention, order or verisimilitude’ in Villati’s texts, and his satire on opera seria, Tarantula (Berlin, 1749), used Villati’s name for a facetious imprimatur on its title-page.

Berenice (dramma per musica), Ferrandini, 1730, Ciro (dramma per musica), Torri, 1733; Le feste galanti (festa teatrale, after J.-F. Duché de Vancy...

Article

Colin Timms

(b ?Milan; fl 1729–54). Italian soprano . Her earliest known appearances were in operas at Florence and Venice in 1729 and 1731. From 1734 to 1754 she performed regularly in the opera houses of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Florence, Naples, Turin and Milan, but not, apparently, in Venice or Rome. Her repertory was not exclusively operatic, for she also sang in a serenata in honour of the Empress Maria Theresa (1748, Parma) and a cantata before the King of the Two Sicilies (26 July 1752, Naples).

She may have been the Signora Visconti who sang in London in 1741 (Alessandro in Persia), 1743 (Galuppi’s Enrico) and 1753–4. If so, she was paid 1000 guineas for her first visit, according to Horace Walpole, and described by Burney on her third visit as ‘first woman, now Passeè [sic]’ – an observation which makes it unlikely that she was the Signora Visconti engaged for London in ...

Article

Marita P. McClymonds

( fl Venice, 1731–53). Italian librettist . He wrote mainly opera seria texts, which were set for Venetian theatres by Albinoni, Galuppi, Giuseppe Scarlatti and Bertoni, among others. His plots derive from ancient history and are often set in Persia or the Middle East. In the early works the stanzas of aria texts have irregular numbers of lines, but the later works have the rhymed double quatrains typical of aria texts for the rest of the century. Most conform to the strictest standards of the Arcadian reform libretto: a succession of recitatives and exit arias and perhaps a duet for the principal couple. Occasional irregularities can be found, however. Il trionfo della costanza of 1731 has an aria with interruptions by pertichini (one or more other characters). Two operas have more than one ensemble. Ergilda (1736) has a duet and a quintet, both in Act 2, and Candalide...

Article

(b Eutin, ?Nov 18, 1786; d London, June 5, 1826). German composer. He was a key figure in the early development of German Romantic opera.

Less than a year after Weber’s birth, his father Franz Anton gave up his post as town musician in Eutin and moved to Hamburg, where he set about forming the Weber Theatre Company. The company consisted of Franz Anton, his second wife Genovefa (Weber’s mother), his sister Adelheid and his three sons by his first marriage, together with a number of other actors. Most of Weber’s childhood was spent travelling from town to town in the Bavarian region with this motley group as they performed their repertory of popular plays and Singspiels. Consequently, his education was somewhat haphazard; he received a few music lessons from his half-brother Fridolin and sporadic lessons in music and other subjects from teachers in the various towns where the troupe performed. A longer stay in Hildburghausen, necessitated by the serious illness of Weber’s mother in ...