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Gabrielli, Caterina

Gabrielli, Caterina

Gabrielli, Caterina, famous Italian soprano; b. Rome, Nov. 12, 1730; d. there, Feb. 16, 1796. Her father served as a cook to Prince Gabrielli, and the prince made it possible for her to pursue vocal training. She thus took his name in appreciation; her nickname “La Coghetta” (“Little Cook”) derives from her father’s position. She most likely studied with Porpora in Venice (1744–47), then sang throughout Italy with notable success. She subsequently went to Vienna, where she made her concert debut at the Burgtheater on Feb. 16, 1755. She found a friend and mentor in Metastasio, and quickly established herself as one of the leading singers of the day. In 1758 she went to Milan, where she found another mentor in the castrato Gaetano Guadagni. That same year she was in Padua and Lucca, and later appeared in Parma (1759–60). She then returned to Vienna, where she created the title roles in Gluck’s Tetide (Oct. 8, 1760) and Traetta’s Armide (Jan. 3, 1761). Following further appearances in Italy, she sang in St. Petersburg (1772–75) and in London (1775–76); she then returned to Italy, singing in Naples, Venice, Lucca, and Milan until her 1780 retirement. Her reputed beauty and scandalous liaisons made her a legendary figure in operatic lore.


H. de Koch, La G. (Paris, 1878).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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