Carestini, Giovanni greatly renowned Italian castrato alto; b. Filottrano, near Ancona, e. 1705; d. probably there, c. 1760. He studied in Milan, then made his operatic debut in a female role in A. Scarlatti’s Griselda in Rome (1721), where he continued to sing until 1723. He sang in Venice (1723–26), Parma and Genoa (1726), Rome (1727–30), Milan (1727–32), Naples (1728–29), where he found a rival in Bernacchi, and again in Venice (1729, 1731); he also served as chamber virtuoso to the Duke of Parma. From 1731 to 1741 he was in the service of the Elector of Bavaria in Munich, but he remained active in other music centers. He made his London debut in the pasticcio Semiramide riconosciuta (Oct. 30, 1733); there Handel chose him to create the leading male roles in his Arianna in Creta (Jan. 26, 1734), II Parnasso infesta (March 13, 1734), Ariodante (Jan. 8, 1735), and Alcina (April 16, 1735), as well as the completely revised role of Mirtillo in II Pastor fido (May 18, 1734). After appearances in Venice (1735) and Naples and Bologna (1736), he sang once again in London (1739–40). On Dec. 26, 1740, he sang in the inaugural performance at Turin’s Teatro Regio of Feo’s Arsace; he also sang in Reggio (1741), Milan (1742–44), where he created the principal roles in Gluck’s Demofoonte (Jan. 6, 1743) and Sofonisba (Jan. 13, 1744), Padua (1743), and Venice (1743–45). He entered the service of the Elector of Saxony in Dresden in 1747. After serving Frederick the Great in Berlin (1750–54), he went to St. Petersburg, where he won the approbation of the Empresess Elizabeth.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire