Storace, Nancy (1765–1817)

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Storace, Nancy (1765–1817)

English soprano. Name variations: Anna Storace; Ann Storace. Born Ann Selina Storace on October 27, 1765, in London; died on August 24, 1817, in London; sister of composer Stephen Storace (1762–1796); married John Abraham Fisher (a composer), in 1783; lived with John Braham (a tenor); children: (with Braham) one son (b. 1802).

Studied with Sacchini and Rauzzini in London; sang in Vienna (1783–87); premiered the role of Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro; performed many operas by her brother (1787–1808); retired (1808).

Nancy Storace was born Ann Selina Storace in 1765 in London, and began performing at age seven. Making her Florence debut at age ten, she outsang the castrato Marchesi and was asked to leave. She and her brother, composer Stephen Storace, were close friends with Mozart. At a chamber music concert at the Storaces' house, Mozart once played the viola, Haydn and Dittersdorf the first and second violins, and Vanhal the cello.

Storace was probably the first person to introduce Mozart's music to English audiences. She was the original Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and it is for this role she is chiefly remembered. Since it was typical of composers to tailor roles to suit the talents of a specific singer, it is natural to assume the same was true in this case. Storace's gaiety, wit, strong personality, and sense of humor characterized Susanna as well. She sang only comic opera, as her voice and temperament were not suited to opera seria.

Her acting was criticized when she first appeared in Vienna's Burgtheater in 1783, but Storace quickly modified it to suit the audience. During her four years as prima donna there, she was Vienna's favorite soprano. When she left Vienna for London, Mozart wrote "Ch'io mi scordi di te" for a farewell performance in which he accompanied her on the piano. A thorough professional, she and Michael Kelly raised the standard of performance in London opera houses. Although she continued to perform, her voice deteriorated quickly, probably because she began singing professionally at such a young age.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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