Marchesi, Luigi (Lodovico)

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Marchesi, Luigi (Lodovico)

Marchesi, Luigi (Lodovico), celebrated Italian castrato soprano, known as “Marchesini”; b. Milan, Aug. 8, 1754; d. Inzago, Dec. 14,1829. He studied horn with his father. After having himself castrated, he pursued vocal training with Alluzzi and Caironi. At age 11, he joined the choir at the Milan Cathedral, where he studied composition with its director Fioroni. He made his debut as Giannetta in Anfossi’s L’Incognita perseguitata in Rome (1773); also sang in Treviso (1775), and then was a member of the Munich court (1776–78). He subsequently gained renown as a member of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples (1778–79); appeared in Florence (1780) and then again in Naples (1780–81). He sang in Milan and also in Turin, where he held the title of musico di corte (1782–98). In 1785 he was engaged by the court of Catherine the Great; on his way to St. Petersburg, he appeared in Sarti’s Giulio Sabino in Vierma before Emperor Joseph II (Aug. 4, 1785), who ordered a medal be struck in his honor. He made his Russian debut as Rinaldo in Sarti’s Armida e Rinaldo at the inaugural performance of the Hermitage Theater in St. Petersburg (Jan. 15, 1786). The soprano Luiza-Rosa Todi intrigued against him, however, and despite his successes, he left Russia before the expiration of his contract. He then appeared in Berlin on March 9, 1787, and subsequently scored a London triumph in Giulio Sabino on April 5,1788. He made his last appearance in London on July 17, 1790, and then pursued his career mainly in Italy; also sang in Vienna again (1798, 1801). He sang in the premiere of Mayr’s Ginevra di Scozia at the dedicatory performance of the Teatro Nuovo in Trieste on April 21, 1801. He made his farewell stage appearance in Mayr’s Lodoiska in Milan in May 1805, but sang in public as late as 1820 in Naples. Blessed with a range of 2 1/2 octaves, Marchesi was unsurpassed in the opera seria genre of his era.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire