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Catalani, Angelica (1780–1849)

Catalani, Angelica (1780–1849)

Italian opera singer. Born in Senigallia, Italy, on May 10, 1780; died of cholera in Paris, France, on June 12, 1849; educated at the convent of Santa Lucia, at Gubbio; studied in Senigallia with her tradesman father and Morandi; debuted in Venice in 1797; married Paul Valabrègue (a French diplomat who later became her manager), in 1804.

When only seven years old, Angelica Catalani attracted general attention for the power and purity of her voice. In 1797, she made her debut in Venice in Mayr's Lodoïska, and from then on every impresario in Europe was eager to sign her. In 1802, she sang in Rome at La Scala to great success. One of the last of the bel cantos, she next appeared in Madrid and Paris to large acclaim. Catalani was married in 1804 and her husband Paul Valabrègue took over her management; two years later, she made her first appearance in London, at the King's Theatre. A prima donna without rival, she remained in England for the next seven years and appeared as Susanna in the first London production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). Offered management of the Théâtre Italien at the Salle Favart in Paris, Catalani and her husband moved to that city, but their stewardship from 1814 to 1818 resulted in financial failure. Catalani's continental tours, however, continued to be enormously successful until she retired in 1828. During her 30-year career, noted most for her singing of popular songs, she amassed a large fortune, receiving at its height up to 200 guineas for one rendition of "Rule Britannia." In 1830, she settled in Florence, Italy, and established a tuition-free singing school for girls. Angelica Catalani died of cholera in Paris on June 12, 1849.

suggested reading:

Escudier, M. and L. Vie et aventures des cantatrices célèbres. Paris, 1856.

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