Giuseppe Aprile


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Michael Kelly (1762—1826) singer and composer

Caffarelli (1710—1783)


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(b Martina Franca, Taranto, 28 Oct 1732; d Martina Franca, 11 Jan 1813). Italian soprano castrato and composer. His early musical training from his father, Fortunato (a notary and church singer), was followed when he was 19 by study with Gregorio Sciroli in Naples (thus his nickname). He made his début in Sciroli's Il barone deluso (1752, Rome). Until 1757 he sang in Naples (in the royal chapel, 1752–6, though librettos continue to list him in the service of the court until 1758), Turin and Rome (where in 1754–5 he became primo uomo); during the next few years he travelled, visiting Venice, Madrid and Stuttgart. After returning briefly to Italy, he was appointed primo uomo in Stuttgart for the period 1762–9 (with one Italian interlude), appearing in Niccolò Jommelli's Didone abbandonata (1763), Demofoonte (1764) and Fetonte (Phaethon, 1768), among other works, and enjoying a salary comparable to Jommelli's own. His brother Raffaele, a violinist, was also engaged at court. The depletion of the duke's cappella provoked his departure; he left behind him considerable debts. In 1770 Charles Burney heard him in Naples; W. A. Mozart heard him there, in Bologna and Milan, remarking that ‘Aprile, first man, sings well and has a beautiful, even voice’, which was ‘unsurpassed’. In Naples Aprile again collaborated with Jommelli on several operas and in 1783 replaced Caffarelli as first soprano in the royal chapel. From 1774 to 1780 his operatic appearances were primarily in Florence, Turin and Rome. His last known performance was in 1785 in Naples, where he was pensioned in 1798. Aprile was well known as a teacher (his students included Michael Kelly, Domenico Cimarosa and the younger Manuel Garcia). His 1791 vocal method – published in English, as The Modern Italian Method of Singing – reprints his 36 solfeggi, found in many other contemporary sources. Its prefatory rules and ‘progressive examples’ are copied from Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci's Instruction…to his Scholars (1782), which in turn reflects ideas espoused early in the century by Pier Francesco Tosi. Aprile wrote a great deal of music (though no operas), as did many singers of his day, most very simple duets in thirds, possibly as pedagogical tools. He possessed an agile voice, with a wide range and diversity of expression, and he was a good actor. C. F. Schubart, writing in Stuttgart, praised his manner of varying arias and noted his great importance to Jommelli.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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