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Elisabeth Cook

[Maria Antonia Josefa Johanna ]

(b Vienna, Nov 2, 1755; d Paris, Oct 16, 1793). Queen of France and patron of opera . The daughter of Emperor Franz I of Austria, she received her early tuition from Gluck (clavecin and singing) and Noverre (dance and deportment). As dauphine (1770) and later queen of France (1774), she supported a great many artists working within the field of opera. The success of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide at the Opéra in 1774 was due largely to the presence of the entire court at the première and to the dauphine’s enthusiastic applause for individual numbers. Accused of favouring Austrian interests too overtly, she was obliged to welcome Piccinni to Paris, and later favoured Sacchini until further criticism forced her to support native composers: for celebrations at Fontainebleau in 1786 Lemoyne’s Phèdre was staged in preference to Sacchini’s Oedipe à Colone. Works by Grétry (...

Article

John A. Rice

[Pietro Leopoldo]

(b Vienna, May 5, 1747; d Vienna, March 1, 1792). Holy Roman Emperor, patron of music, third son of Empress Maria Theresa Habsburg and Francis of Lorraine. As a patron Leopold influenced operatic life in both Tuscany, which he ruled as Grand Duke from 1765 to 1790, and Vienna. In Tuscany he hired as virtuosi di camera several leading opera singers, among them Giovanni Manzuoli, Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci and Tommaso Guarducci, and subsidized the performance of several innovatory operas by Traetta, including his masterpiece, Ifigenia in Tauride (1763, Vienna; revived in Florence in 1768). In 1790 Leopold succeeded his brother Joseph II in Vienna and brought with him a taste for Italian opera as it was cultivated in Florence. He undertook a major transformation of the Viennese court opera in 1791, dismissing some of those who had contributed much to Viennese opera during the previous decade (including Lorenzo da Ponte) and hiring singers with whom he had become familiar in Florence. His policies for comic opera are reflected in Cimarosa’s ...

Article

Elisabeth Cook

[Poisson, Jeanne Antoinette ]

(b Paris, Dec 29, 1721; d Versailles, April 16, 1764). French patron . She married Guillaume Lenormand, Seigneur d’Etioles, in 1741 and established a popular salon frequented by such leading literary figures as Pompeo magno Voltaire, C.-L. de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu and Fontenelle. In 1745 she became Louis XV’s mistress and was granted the title ‘Marquise de Pompadour’. In this capacity she was able to encourage many more artists, including the composers François Rebel, Mion and La Garde and the librettists Pierre Laujon, Moncrif and P.-C. Nivelle de La Chaussée. In 1747 she formed her own amateur théâtre at Versailles, the Theatre des Petits Cabinets, which moved to Bellevue; in 1752. During the next seven years some 33 operatic works, mainly in the pastoral genre, were performed, with Mme de Pompadour often taking the leading role. The Duke of Luynes judged her voice small but pleasant. She was, moreover, an excellent musician and an attractive, competent actress....