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date: 13 November 2019

Portugal [Portogallo], Marcos António (da Fonseca)free

  • David Cranmer

(b Lisbon, March 24, 1762; d Rio de Janeiro, Feb 7, 1830). Portuguese composer. Baptized simply Marcos, son of Manuel António da Ascenção and Joaquina Teresa Rosa, he was known in childhood and youth as Marcos António; he adopted the surname Fonseca Portugal in the mid-1780s from Captain José Correia da Fonseca Portugal, who had been padrinho (‘godfather’) at his parents’ wedding. On 6 August 1771 he was admitted to the Seminário da Patriarcal of Lisbon, where he studied composition with João de Sousa Carvalho, as well as singing and the organ. According to Fétis, he had teachers by the names of Borselli and Orao, acted as accompanist at the Madrid Opera at the age of 20 and was sponsored by the Portuguese ambassador there to go to Italy in 1787, but there is no evidence for these assertions. On 23 July 1783 he was admitted to the music guild, the Irmandade de S Cecília, as singer and organist of the Patriarcal.

Portugal’s involvement with the theatre began with his appointment as maestro at the Teatro do Salitre, Lisbon, in 1785. Between then and 1792 he composed a series of farsas and entremezes for the Salitre, including Portuguese versions of Goldonian librettos. None of these is extant. During this period he also composed a number of one-act elogios (dramatic odes) for performance there on royal birthdays, of which two have survived: Licença pastoril and Pequeno drama. Under royal patronage he went to Naples in 1792, ostensibly to complete his musical studies, but he quickly became active as an opera composer. He gained instant success with La confusione della somiglianza (1793, Florence), one of several opere buffe and farse he wrote over the next seven years which were subsequently performed throughout Italy and much of Europe. Although Portugal wrote a number of opere serie during this period, they were less well received, only Fernando nel Messico (1798, Venice) being repeated outside Italy – in London (1803) thanks to Elizabeth Billington, for whom he had written the opera, and in Lisbon (1805), where he revised it for Angelica Catalani.

Portugal returned to Lisbon in 1800, and was appointed mestre de capela of the royal chapel and maestro of the Teatro de S Carlos, taking over the post from the violinist and composer Francesco Federici. From summer 1803 the theatre’s musical direction was divided between Portugal, conductor of the seria company, and Valentino Fioravanti, of the buffa, each heading a troupe of the highest calibre. This state of affairs continued until Carnival 1807 and explains why Portugal wrote or revised 12 opere serie during the period but only one opera buffa (L’oro non compra amore, 1804). Only this last subsequently gained widespread popularity in Italy and elsewhere. When Napoleon’s troops entered Lisbon in November 1807, Marcos Portugal, in spite of his court position, did not flee to Brazil with the royal family. During the ten-month French occupation he revised Demofoonte for Napoleon’s birthday in 1808. About this time, and until 1834, the finale of his cantata La speranza was adopted as the national anthem. He was intermittently conductor at the S Carlos until January 1811, after which he sailed with his brother Simão Portugal, a church composer, for Rio de Janeiro. Here he was immediately reappointed mestre of the royal chapel and, upon its opening in 1813, maestro of the new Teatro S João. The only significant stage work he composed in Brazil was A saloia namorada (1812), for performance at court; he also revived four of his Lisbon operas. In 1817 he composed a hymn of acclamation for John VI, and his Hino da independência, celebrating Brazilian independence in 1822, was first performed on 12 October that year.

As well as theatre works, Portugal composed a substantial amount of church music, except during his period in Italy. Some of this music exploits the six organs at the Basilica of Mafra. He also contributed a number of modinhas to the Jornal de modinhas, published in Lisbon in the 1790s. But his fame rests above all on his comic works, especially La confusione della somiglianza, Lo spazzacamino principe, La donna di genio volubile, Le donne cambiate, Non irritar le donne and L’oro non compra amore, and on the showpiece arias he wrote or revised for Catalani, most notably ‘Son regina’ (from La morte di Semiramide, revised in La Sofonisba).

Stylistically Portugal’s music is firmly within the Neapolitan tradition of Cimarosa, though as the 1994 Lisbon and London revivals of Le donne cambiate (in a contemporary Portuguese version as As damas trocadas) revealed, he was both more melodious and more forward-looking in his use of devices such as a ‘stupefaction ensemble’ and certain turns of phrase more familiar to modern audiences from the music of Rossini. In his Lisbon opere serie he was generally more conservative, often re-using material composed in Italy and allowing Catalani’s virtuosity to override musical considerations.


LIC Lisbon, Teatro S Carlos

LIS Lisbon, Teatro do Salitre

VM Venice, Teatro S Moisè


dg dramma giocoso

dm dramma per musica

ds dramma serio

e entremez

f farsa

tm tragedia per musica

Os bons amigos (f or e), LIS, 1786

A casa de café (f or e), LIS, 1787

A castanheira, ou a Brites Papagaia (e, 1, J.C. de Figueiredo), LIS, 1788

O amor conjugal (ds, 1, J.P. Monteiro), LIS, 25 July 1789

O amor artifice (f or e, ?after C. Goldoni: L’amore artigiano), LIS, 1790

A noiva fingida (dg, 2, trans. of G.M. Diodati: Le trame deluse), LIS, 1790

Os viajantes ditosos (dg, 2, trans. of F. Livigni: I viaggiatori felici), LIS, 1790

O amante militar (e, ?after Goldoni), LIS, 1791

O lunático iludido (O mundo da lua) (drama, 3, trans. of Goldoni: Il mondo della luna), LIS, 1791

La confusione della somiglianza, o siano I due gobbi (Le confusioni/La forza/L’equivoco della somiglianza, La vera somiglianza; Verwirrung durch/Die täuschende Aehnlichkeit, Die beyden Bucklichten, Die Buckeligen) (dg, 2, C. Mazzini), Florence, Pallacorda, spr. 1793, D-Dl, F-Pc, I-Fc, Mr

Il poeta in campagna (2, F.S. Zini), Parma, Ducale, Sept 1793

Il Cinna (ds, 2, A. Anelli), Florence, Pergola, aut. 1793, Fc

Rinaldo d’Aste (commedia con musica, 1, G.M. Foppa, after G. Carpani), VM, 4 Jan 1794, Gl

Lo spazzacamino principe (Il principe/Il barone spazzacamino; Der Schornsteinfeger Peter, oder Das Spiel des Ohngefährs; O basculho de chaminé) (commedia con musica, 1, Foppa, after Carpani), VM, 4 Jan 1794, F-Pc, I-Fc, Mr, PAc

Demofoonte (dm, 3, P. Metastasio), Milan, Scala, 8 Feb 1794

rev. version in 2 acts, LIC, 15 Aug 1808

B-Bc, I-Mr*, Act 1 P-Ln, US-Wc

La vedova raggiratrice, o siano I due sciocchi delusi (L’astuto, L’astuta; Die schlaue Witwe, oder Die beiden angeführten Thoren) (dg, 2), Florence, Pergola, spr. 1794, I-Fc

L’avventuriere (f, 1, ?C. Mazzolà), VM, carn. 1795

Lo stratagemma, ossiano I due sordi (int, 1, Foppa), Florence, Pallacorda, carn. 1795

L’inganno poco dura (commedia, 2, Zini), Naples, Fiorentini, carn. 1796, Nc

Zulima (dm, 2, F. Gonella di Ferrari), Florence, Pallacorda, spr. 1796, F-Pc, I-Fc, Mc

La donna di genio volubile (La donna bizzarra, I quattro rivali in amore; Die Wankelmüthige) (dg, 2, G. Bertati), VM, 5 Oct 1796, A-Wgm, F-Pc, I-Fc, Mr

Il ritorne di Serse (ds, 2, Gonella di Ferrari), Florence, Pallacorda, April 1797, I-Fc, Mr, PAc; rev. as Argenide, LIC, 13 May 1804, P-VV

Le donne cambiate (La bacchetta portentosa, Il calzolaio, Il ciabattino, Il diavolo a quattro; Die verwandelten Weiber, oder Der Teufel ist los, Der lustige Schuster; O Mestre Biajo sapateiro, O sapateiro) (f, 1, Foppa, after C. Coffey: The Devil to Pay), VM, 22 Oct 1797, F-Pc, I-Fc

Fernando nel Messico (dm, 3, F. Tarducci), Venice, S Benedetto, 16 Jan 1798, GB-Lbl (largely autograph); rev. version in 2 acts, LIC, sum. 1805, Act 1 P-La, Act 2 VV (partly autograph)

La maschera fortunata (La maschera felice, Il matrimonio in maschera; A mascara) (f, 1, Foppa), VM, 5 Feb 1798, F-Pc, I-Fc, Mr

L’equivoco in equivoco (Quem busca lã fica tosquiado) (f, 1, Foppa), Verona, Filarmonico, spr. 1798

La madre virtuosa (operetta di sentimento, 1, Foppa), VM, 30 Oct 1798

Alceste (tm, 3, S.A. Sografi), Venice, Fenice, 26 Dec 1798, Mr

Non irritar le donne, ossia Il chiamantesi filosofo (Il filosofo, Il sedicente filosofo) (f, 1, Foppa), Venice, S Benedetto, 27 Dec 1798, F-Pc

La pazza giornata, ovvero Il matrimonio di Figaro (dramma comico per musica, 2, G. Rossi), Venice, S Benedetto, 26 Dec 1799, Pc, I-Fc

Idante, ovvero I sacrifici d’Ecate (dm, 2, G. Schmidt), Milan, Scala, 13 Feb 1800, Mr*

Adrasto re d’Egitto (dm, 3, G. De Gamerra), LIC, 21 Dec 1800 [not 17 Dec as in lib]

La morte di Semiramide (ds, 2, G. Caravita), LIC, 23 Dec 1801, P-La, Ln

La Zaira (tm, 2, M. Botturini), LIC, 19 Feb 1802

rev. LIC, sum. 1804, La, excerpts Ln, VV

Il trionfo di Clelia (ds, 2, Sografi), LIC, wint. 1802

La Sofonisba (ds, 2, del Mare), LIC, carn. 1803

La Merope (ds, 2, Botturini), LIC, Dec 1804, La

L’oro non compra amore (dg, 2, Caravita), LIC, wint. 1804, F-Pc, GB-Lcm, I-Mr, Nc, P-Lant (Act 1), VV (Act 2)

Il duca di Foix (dm, 2, Caravita), LIC, wint. 1805

Ginevra di Scozia (dramma eroico per musica, 2, Rossi), LIC, wint. 1805

La morte di Mitridate (tm, 2, Sografi), LIC, carn. 1806, La

Artaserse (ds, 2, Metastasio), LIC, aut. 1806, GB-Lcm

A saloia namorada (f, 1, D. Caldas Barbosa), Rio de Janeiro, Quinta da Boa Vista, 1812

Augurio di felicità, o sia Il trionfo d’amore (serenata, M.A. Portugal, after Metastasio), Rio de Janeiro, court, 7 Nov 1817, P-Lant (Fundo Casa da Fronteira)

Music in: Gli Orazi e i Curiazi, 1798

Didone, 1803

Carolina Sobieschki, 1804

Tito Vespasiano, 1807

Amor non si cela, 1808

Adriano in Siria, 1809

Omar re di Termagene, 1810

Ines de Castro, 1810

Romeo e Giulietta, 1812

Barsene regina di Lidia, 1815

Zulema e Selimo, 1815

Il trionfo di Gusmano, 1816

Der Kampf im Vorzimmer, 1816

Lo sprezzatore schernito, 1816

Il feudatario, 1818


A casa de pasto (pequena peça, J.D. Rodrigues da Costa), LIS, 1784

L’eroe cinese (Metastasio), Turin, 1788

O amor da Patria (ds, 1), LIS, 1789

Il molinaro (int), Venice, carn. 1790

Il muto per astuzia (f, 1, Foppa), ?1800, I-Mr; Zulema e Selimo, LIC, 1804

Penelope (os, 3), St Petersburg, Mikhailov, 1818

Works with conflicting attributions: Il finto stregone (f, Foppa), VM, aut. 1798 [by F. Gardi]

Other works

Cants. and occasional works

Licença pastoril, LIS, 1787, P-La; Pequeno drama, LIS, 1787, La; La purissima concezione di Maria Santissima (cant.), 1788

O genio americano (cant.), Bahia, 1806

La speranza (cant., G. Caravita), LIC, 1809


numerous masses, mass sections, hymns, matins, pss, TeD, seqs, lits, ants, Lamentations, canticles, etc., P-La, Lant (Fundo Casa da Fronteira), Ln, Mp


  • DBP [incl. Portugal’s catalogue of his own works]
  • C.I. Ruders: Portugisisk resa (Stockholm, 1805–9); Port. trans., abridged, as Viagem em Portugal 1798–1802 (Lisbon, 1981)
  • F. da Fonseca Benevides: O Real theatro de São Carlos de Lisboa (Lisbon, 1883)
  • M. Pereira Peixoto d’Almeida Carvalhaes: Marcos Portugal na sua musica dramatica (Lisbon, 1910, suppl. 1916)
  • A. de Andrade: Francisco Manuel da Silva e seu tempo (Rio de Janeiro, 1967)
  • J.-P. Sarraute: Marcos Portugal: ensaios (Lisbon, 1979)
  • D. Cranmer: ‘Autógrafo ou cópia? Partituras das óperas de Marcos Portugal e Valentino Fioravanti escritas para o Teatro de São Carlos’, Boletim da Associação portuguesa de educação musical, 58 (1988), 27–30
Vienna, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde
F.-J. Fétis: Biographie universelle des musiciens
Vila Viçosa, Fundaçao da Casa de Brangança, Biblioteca do Paço Ducal, Arquivo Musical
Parma, Biblioteca Palatina, sezione Musicale
Milan, Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Verdi, Biblioteca
Milan, Biblioteca della Casa Ricordi
Madrid, Patrimonio Nacional
Lisbon, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo
Washington, DC, Library of Congress, Music Division
Naples, Conservatorio di Musica S Pietro a Majella, Biblioteca
London, Royal College of Music, Library
Brussels, Conservatoire Royal, Bibliothèque, Koninklijk Conservatorium, Bibliotheek
Lisbon, Biblioteca Nacional, Centro de Estudos Musicológicos
E. Vieira, ed.: Diccionário biográphico de musicos portuguezes (Lisbon, 1900)
Genoa, Conservatorio di Musica Nicolò Paganini, Biblioteca
Florence, Conservatorio Statale di Musica Luigi Cherubini
Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitäts-Bibliothek, Musikabteilung
London, British Library
Paris, Conservatoire [in F-Pn]
Lisbon, Biblioteca da Ajuda