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( fl 1719–42). Italian choreographer and dancer . He was probably a native of Florence, since he is often cited in librettos as ‘Francesco Aquilanti, Fiorentino’ or ‘da Firenze’. His early choreographic work was concentrated in Venice, where he provided ballets for 17 operas at the Teatro S Giovanni Grisostomo (1721–34; including Leo’s Catone in Utica, Porpora’s Semiramide riconosciuta and works by Gasparini, Orlandini, Vinci and others), and for five operas during Ascension seasons at the Teatro S Samuele (1722–35; including Vivaldi’s Griselda). During this time he is also listed as a choreographer in Reggio Emilia (1725, Porpora’s Didone abbandonata) and as a dancer for opera productions in Turin (1727–8, 1729–30), along with Chiara Aquilanti who may have been his wife, sister or daughter. He spent two seasons in Naples as a choreographer, first for operas at the Teatro S Bartolomeo (1736–7...

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Gabriella Biagi Ravenni

(b Lucca, Feb 5, 1742; d after 1798). Italian librettist, dancer and choreographer. A brother of Luigi Boccherini, he made his début as a dancer in Venice in 1757, but his major successes were achieved in Vienna between 1759 and 1767 (for example, Noverre’s revived Médée et Jason) and from 1769 to 1771. He used this success to begin a career as a librettist; he was a member of the Accademia dell’Arcadia (with the name of Argindo Bolimeo) and published a collection of sonnets. His libretto Turno, re dei Rutoli, a dramma tragico (Vienna, 1767), was never set to music, but reveals a progressive approach to drama; its commendation by Calzabigi, appended to the libretto, led to contact with Salieri, who set to music most of Boccherini’s subsequent librettos. These reveal a talent for pantomime and choreography, and handle theatrical conventions with ease. From 1772 to 1775...

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Maureen Needham Costonis

[‘La Camargo’]

(b Brussels, bap. April 15, 1710; d Paris, April 28, 1770). Franco-Flemish dancer. She was engaged as first dancer at the Brussels opera house, after studying in Paris with François Prévost in about 1720. Her Paris Opéra début in Rebel’s ballet Les caractères de la danse (1726) was so sensational that Prévost jealously refused to teach her any longer, and Camargo subsequently studied with Dumoulin and Blondy; it is said that she shortened her skirts to demonstrate her mastery of rapid beating steps and jumps, modelled on those of the male dancers with whom she studied. A fierce rivalry broke out between her and Marie Sallé, which Voltaire characterized as a competition between opposing qualities of lively brilliance and expressive gracefulness. Camargo danced in 79 operas and ballets at the Paris Opéra from 1726 to 1751 (she was absent from the company, 1734–41). Known for her exquisite performance in Rameau’s ...

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Irene Alm

(b Milan, ?1755; d after 1838). Italian dancer, choreographer and composer. A pupil of Noverre, he danced at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna in 1775 and presented his first choreography at the Teatro S Agostino in Genoa during Carnival 1776. Most of Clerico’s works were created for the opera houses in Venice, where he worked during the 1780s at S Samuele, S Benedetto and S Moisè, and later in his career at the Fenice, and in Milan, where from 1790 he graced the stage of La Scala for nearly 40 years. He also created ballets for opera houses in Turin, Rome, Brescia, Padua, Bologna, Parma and Florence, and returned to work in Vienna, 1798–1800. Clerico often danced in his own ballets with his brother Gaetano and sister Rosa (who in 1786 married the choreographer and dancer Lorenzo Panzieri). Their exceptional abilities as dancers, according to Ritorni, contributed in part to the success of Clerico’s ballets. Not only was he a renowned choreographer and dancer, but he also composed the music for many of his ballets. He was considered the heir to Angiolini, and an important precursor of Viganò. His enormous output totals nearly 80 ballets, many of which were restaged throughout Italy and in foreign theatres....

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(b Montpellier, Aug 19, 1742; d Tours, Feb 14, 1806). French dancer, teacher and choreographer . He danced in Lyons in 1757 under Noverre, who described his pupil as a joyful and dramatically expressive dancer. Within two years Dauberval was ballet-master for the Turin opera house. In 1761 he made a successful début at the Paris Opéra in Rameau’s Zaïs. He performed under Noverre in Stuttgart, 1762–4, appeared at the Haymarket, London, in 1764 and returned in 1766 to the Opéra, where he was appointed assistant ballet-master in 1770. He danced in many revivals of works by Lully and Rameau, and in the premières of Dauvergne’s Polyxène (1763), Louis Granier’s Théonis (1767), P.-M. Berton and J. B. de La Borde’s Adèle de Ponthieu (1772) and Gossec’s Sabinus (2nd version; 1774). From 1781 to 1783 he shared the title of ballet-master with Maximilien Gardel; he was ousted as a result of political intrigues....

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b Vienna, Jan 17, 1775; d Addleston, Surrey, Sept 3, 1838). English actress, singer, and dancer . Her father, an orchestral flute player, brought his family to London and she danced on stage as a child, gradually taking juvenile acting and singing parts. From 1790 she built up a repertory of roles in musical pieces, an early success being Macheath in a travesty Beggar’s opera. Hard-working, intelligent and lively, she had parts in many operas by Storace and Kelly. C. H. Wilson wrote, ‘she sings so well, acts so well, dances so well, and looks so well, that she is deservedly a great favourite of the town’. After marrying Charles Kemble in 1806 she generally acted with him but made few appearances after 1813.

BDA DNB (J. Knight) LS ‘Miss De Camp’, Thespian Magazine, 3 (1794),79–80 C. H. Wilson: The Myrtle and Vine (London, 1802) R. Fiske...

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Maureen Needham Costonis

(b Nancy, Feb 4, 1758; d Paris, Oct 18, 1840). French dancer and ballet-master . He made his début as a danseur noble in 1774. He was trained by his brother, Maximilien Léopold Philippe Joseph Gardel (b Mannheim, 18 Dec 1741; d Paris, 11 March 1787), a dancer at the Opéra since 1755 and assistant ballet-master from 1773. The elder Gardel had made a sensation there in 1772 when, asked to replace Gaetano Vestris in Rameau’s Castor et Pollux, he had removed the traditional mask. In 1783 Maximilien became principal ballet-master and Pierre was appointed his assistant. He became principal ballet-master in 1787 and held the post for more than 40 years. Grimm described him as a worthy successor to Noverre, and Bournonville claimed that ‘no one was able to rival’ his opera dances, citing the ‘wealth of invention’ in such works as Le Sueur and Persuis’ ...

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(b Modena, c 1700; d Naples, ?1774). Italian dancer, choreographer and impresario . He spent the early part of his career in Venice, where he created ballets for more than 40 operas, 1720–45. His name first appears as a choreographer for the 1720 Ascension season (Orlandini’s Griselda) at the Teatro S Samuele, here he worked for 11 Ascension seasons (later productions included works by Porpora, Albinoni and Galuppi, and Gluck’s Demetrio in 1742). He also choreographed at S Giovanni Grisostomo (24 operas, 1722–45, including Porpora’s Siface, Meride e Selinunte, Rosbale and Statira, and Hasse’s Alessandro nell’Indie and Semiramide riconosciuta) and at S Angelo, S Cassiano, and S Moisè. At the Teatro Falcone in Genoa (1731) and the Regio Ducal Teatro in Milan (1732–3, Lampugnani’s Candace; 1737–40, works by Bernasconi, Brivio and Leo) he worked with his wife Maria, a Venetian ballerina. While in Milan Goldoni, who knew the couple from Venice, spent an evening at their home, in his ...

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Maureen Needham Costonis

(b 1655; d 1738). French dancer. She was called ‘la première des premières danseuses’ because she was the highest-ranked of the first ballerinas permitted to appear in public at the Paris Opéra. She danced the leading role in Lully’s Le triomphe de l’Amour at the Opéra (1681...

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Maureen Needham Costonis

(b Paris, 1725; d 1777). French choreographer and dancer . He was the son of Antoine Bandieri de Laval (b Paris, 1688; d Paris, 20 Oct 1767), who had been a noted exponent of the danse sérieuse and had choreographed many revivals of operas by Campra and others. Michel-Jean joined the ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(d Kensington, London, bur. Aug 28, 1784). English soprano, actress and dancer. The daughter of a Jewish merchant (or tavern keeper) she made her début as Polly in The Beggar’s Opera at the newly opened Covent Garden Theatre in December 1732, with a run of 20 nights in succession. She played Deidamia in Gay’s posthumous ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

[Mrs Vernon, Mrs Thompson]

(b London, June 8, 1736; d after 1788). English soprano and dancer. As a child she appeared as a dancer and at the age of 14 she sang a minor role in the opera La Forza d’amore by Pietro Domenico Paradies with an Italian opera company at the Haymarket Theatre. Three years later, in May 1754, she sang the Genius of England in Thomas Arne's Eliza. She generally played spirited second-woman roles, singing Lucy in The Beggar’s Opera almost every season and creating the parts of Dorcas in Arne’s Thomas and Sally (1760) and Fanny the gypsy in The Maid of the Mill (1765). In 1762 her immodest costume while dancing shocked the party in the royal box and in Thespis she was called ‘the liveliest baggage on the modern stage’. Her Savoy Chapel marriage to the tenor Vernon in 1755 was declared invalid; she sang again as Miss Poitier from ...

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[Francesco ]

(d Lisbon, Jan 18, 1775). French choreographer and dancer . His name first appears as ‘Mons. Soutter’, ballet-master for the 1738–9 opera season at the S Giovanni Grisostomo, Venice: his first opera was Rinaldo di Capua’s Farnace. Except for a three-year period in Stuttgart (1758–61), where he immediately preceded Noverre and choreographed three Jommelli operas, Sauveterre worked in Italy until 1766, creating ballets for operas in Padua (1740), Turin (1740–41, 1749–50), Florence (1743–4, 1746–7), Milan (1746, 1748, 1752–3, 1755–6, 1763, 1765), Reggio Emilia (1741, 1750–51, 1753, 1755), Naples (1742, Leo’s Andromaca), Rome (1749), Bologna (1756) and Venice (1749, 1740–51, 1763–6). Sacchini, Paisiello and Guglielmi are among the composers with whom he worked. In 1766 Sauveterre accompanied his student, Pietro Colonna, to Lisbon, and was recommended as dancing-master to the prince and choreographer for the court theatres, replacing Andrea Alberti, ‘Il Tedeschino’; there he choreographed many operas by Jommelli, as well as works by Perez, Piccinni and others. A contemporary writer in Florence described his ballets as superb. He emphasized dramatic and mimetic content in the style of ...

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[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 ...