Senesino (Bernardi, Francesco)

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Senesino [Bernardi, Francesco] (b Siena, c.1680; d Siena, by 1759). It. alto castrato. Pupil of Bernacchi in Bologna. Sang in Venice 1707–8, Genoa 1709 and 1712, Naples 1715–16, Dresden, 1717–20. Handel heard him and engaged him for London, where he sang with Handel's co. 1720–8 (singing in 32 operas, 13 by Handel) and 1730–3 when he joined Porpora's rival co. until 1736. Returned to Italy after having made fortune. Created leading roles in 17 Handel operas incl. title roles in Floridante, Ottone, Giulio Cesare, Admeto, Riccardo Primo, Siroe, Tolomeo, Ezio, Sosarme, and Orlando, and Guido in Flavio, Andronicus in Tamerlano, Bertarido in Rodelinda, and Lucejo in Scipione. Voice was considered more beautiful even than Farinelli's.