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Costa, (Sir) Michael (Andrew Agnus)

Costa, (Sir) Michael (Andrew Agnus) [ Michele Andrea Agniello] (b Naples, 1808; d Hove, 1884). It.-born conductor and composer (Brit. cit.). Wrote 4 operas for Naples 1826–9. Went to Birmingham 1829 to conduct Zingarelli cantata (but only sang in it), and settled in London, taking leading part in many mus. activities. Maestro al piano King's (later Her Majesty's) Th. 1830, cond. and mus. dir. 1833–46 and 1871–81. Cond. Phil. Soc. 1846–54, Birmingham Fest. 1849–82, Handel Fest. 1857–80, Royal It. Opera, CG 1847–68 and 1871–9. Comp. 3 syms., cantatas, operas incl. Don Carlos (London 1844), and oratorios Eli (Birmingham 1855) and Naaman (Birmingham 1864). Opinions differ on Costa's merits as a cond., but he was certainly a superb orch. trainer. Of his comps., Rossini's remark is perhaps pertinent: ‘Good old Costa has sent me an oratorio score and a Stilton cheese; the cheese was very fine’. Knighted 1869.

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