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Robert Lamar Weaver

(bc1755; dc1829). Italian impresario and librettist. His family was from Vicenza. Though trained as a lawyer, he chose instead to become an actor like his parents, and joined first Pietro Rossi’s company in Venice and then, around 1777, the Compagnia Nazionale Toscana in Florence, directed by Giovanni Roffi. His first tragedy, Le glorie della religione di Malta, had success in many Italian theatres. He succeeded Roffi as impresario of the Teatro del Cocomero in 1785 and served until 1795, visiting Milan for a season in 1792.

Andolfati’s greatest importance lies in his cultivation of Florentine poets and composers for the Cocomero’s musical repertory. His contract there required him to translate French farces into Italian; in addition to the librettos listed below that are almost certainly his work, he probably wrote the otherwise anonymous librettos for most of the farse and some of the intermezzos given at the theatre during his tenure....

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Robert Lamar Weaver

(b Tuscany, c1730; d after 1792). Italian librettist and stage director. He was one of two poets at the Teatro del Cocomero in Florence around 1755, a position requiring him to alter and add to librettos by other authors, notably Goldoni. His I matrimoni in maschera (1763) and L’amore industrioso (1765), comic operas composed by G. M. Rutini, established the reputations of both men in Italy and can be regarded as Casorri’s masterpieces. He was an active translator into Italian of French farces, the most successful being Il disertore, originally by L. S. Mercier and set to music by Giuseppe Gazzaniga, which probably owed its popularity to its unswerving morality and optimism. Casorri wrote two opera seria librettos, Attalo, re di Bitinia (1780) and Mesenzio, re d’Etruria, the latter set by the young Cherubini in 1782; both are solemn and noble, though conventional. In the 1790s Casorri directed a Tuscan prose company which performed in the Palla a Corda and the Piazza Vecchia theatres. His principal composer there was Neri Bondi; Casorri wrote and translated intermezzos and farces for the company to perform....

Article

Robert Lamar Weaver

(b Florence, April 15, 1759; d Florence, Feb 10, 1830). Italian director and librettist. He wrote spoken tragedies, including La strage degli innocenti (1782), performed at the Borgo Ognissanti theatre in Florence, and Enrico, e Sofia (1783), given at the Cocomero. About 1784 he became director of prose comedies for the Compagnia Nazionale Toscana, resident at the Cocomero; he was also a poet there with the duty of ‘accommodating’ librettos. He wrote at least two melodramas, for which Giuseppe Moneta furnished the music, and two comic intermezzos. He then turned to serious opera, with Ines de Castro, set to music first by Giordaniello, then by Andreozzi and subsequently, as a pasticcio, by several composers. An ardent patriot and supporter of the Habsburg-Lorraine rule, he wrote La felicità in Etruria (which he adjusted to previously composed, anonymous music) in 1799 to celebrate Ferdinando III’s restoration to the grand duchy after the first French occupation in that year. An account book of the Accademia degl’Infuocati refers to Giotti in ...

Article

Carole Taylor

[Sackville, Charles; later 2nd Duke of Dorset]

(b London, Feb 6, 1711; d London, Jan 6, 1769). English impresario . He made his first European ‘grand tour’, 1731–3, and undertook a second continental visit, 1737–8. He is best known as the extravagant young aristocrat who took up the direction of Italian opera at the King’s Theatre in 1739 just when Handel dropped the form altogether. Under his direction, Galuppi, Lampugnani and the soprano castrato Angelo Maria Monticelli were invited to appear in London from 1739 to 1745. Londoners also heard Pergolesi’s music on the stage for the first time in 1741–2 (L’Olimpiade), and Lord Middlesex undoubtedly had a hand in bringing Gluck over in 1745–6. Middlesex engaged a complete buffo company from Italy for the coming seasons, before withdrawing from direct involvement in the opera management in autumn 1748. Francesco Vanneschi, Middlesex’s chief poet and assistant manager, ultimately took over as impresario in 1753...

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Curtis Price

(fl 1789–93). Irish impresario. Of obscure origin, he reputedly trained as a law clerk in London in the mid-1780s and was employed by a lawyer representing Giovanni Gallini in his struggle to acquire control of the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket. After the fire that destroyed the theatre on 17 June 1789, Gallini was issued a licence to mount a season of Italian opera at the Little Haymarket Theatre, and in early September he sent O’Reilly to Italy to recruit singers. With the help of Gallini’s contact in Florence, Lord Cowper, O’Reilly assembled a fine company which included the castrato Luigi Marchesi, Anna Storace as prima buffa and Gertrud Elisabeth Mara as prima donna seria.

In early 1790 two competing schemes were launched to re-establish an Italian opera house in London. William Taylor and Michael Novosielski started to rebuild on the site of the old King’s Theatre. In the meantime, the Earl of Salisbury and the Duke of Bedford, with the approbation of the Prince of Wales, planned a grand opera house in Leicester Square. Because Salisbury was also Lord Chamberlain and thus controlled the licensing of public theatres, a front-man had to be found to conceal his conflict of interest. For reasons that remain unknown, O’Reilly was the ostensible proprietor. Borrowing ideas from the French theatre architect Victor Louis and consulting Sir John Soane in London, he designed a lavish opera house for Leicester Square. When the Lord Chancellor refused him a royal patent on the grounds that natural justice favoured creditors of the old Haymarket theatre, O’Reilly leased the Pantheon in Oxford Street in summer ...

Article

Ethyl L. Will

revised by Elisabeth Cook

(b Châlons-sur-Marne, Feb 18, 1725; d Paris, July 7, 1794). French administrator . He was the son of Pierre Papillon, president-treasurer of France ‘de la généralité de Champagne’ at Châlons-sur-Marne. In the mid-1740s Papillon moved to Paris, where he completed his law studies. He bought the three official positions of intendant-contrôler de l’argenterie (1756), menus-plaisirs (1762) and affaires de la chambre du roi (1762). Until 1760 the intendant had no control over the two Comédies, but Papillon obtained management of the Comédie-Italienne in 1760 and of the Comédie-Française in 1762. In 1773 he was appointed intendant de l’Ordre royal et militaire de St Louis. At the king’s request Papillon assisted in the reorganization of the Opéra in 1776. Although this position lasted only one year, his efforts were so successful that he obtained the supervisory direction of the Opéra (1780–90), as well as direction of the Ecole Royale de Chant (the forerunner of the Paris Conservatoire) from its establishment in ...

Article

John Rosselli

(fl 1790–1814). Italian impresario. He had already had experience as impresario at Genoa when in 1798 he took on the management of La Scala, Milan, under the republican regime installed by Napoleon. He remained in charge until 1814 (with a brief hiatus caused by the French retreat in 1799), with a series of partners including Barbaia. Thanks to wartime prosperity in Milan from 1802, and to the decision of the Napoleonic government to reintroduce a gambling monopoly centred on the opera house, he enjoyed large profits, some of which he invested in lavish productions of opera and ballet, employing Rossini, the librettist Felice Romani, the scene designers Paolo Landriani and Alessandro Sanquirico, and the choreographer Salvatore Viganò; these established La Scala as the leading Italian opera house. When the new Austrian government forbade gambling, in 1814, Ricci, who had invested large sums in property, retired.

J. Rosselli...

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

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 ...