Siface (real name, Giovanni Francesco Grossi)

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Siface (real name, Giovanni Francesco Grossi)

Siface (real name, Giovanni Francesco Grossi), famous Italian castrato soprano; b. Chiesina Uzzanese, near Pescia, Feb. 12, 1653; d. (murdered) near Ferrara, May 29, 1697. He gained renown and his nickname when he appeared as Siface in Cavalli’s Scipione affricano in Rome in 1671. After singing in the Papal Chapel (1675–79), he was in the service of Francesco II d’Este, Duke of Modena. He also appeared in opera throughout Italy, and in 1687 visited London and sang before King James II in his private chapel. He then pursued his career in Modena, Naples, Parma, Bologna, Milan, and Reggio Emilia. When he became intimate with a female member of the Marsili family, affronted members of the family took revenge by having assassins kill him.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire