Filippo Coletti


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(b Anagni, 11 May 1811; d Anagni, 13 June 1894). Italian baritone. He studied at Real Collegio di Musica in Naples, making a successful début at the Teatro del Fondo (1834) in Rossini's Il turco in Italia. His talents attracted the attention of Pierre Laporte, impresario of Her Majesty's Theatre, London, who in 1840 engaged him to replace the popular favourite Tamburini, thereby provoking a riot vividly described by R. H. Barham in one of his Ingoldsby Legends. Returning defeated to Naples, Coletti created the roles of Lusignano in Gaetano Donizetti's Caterina Cornaro (1844) and Carlo and Gusmano in Giuseppe Verdi's Ernani (1844) and Alzira (1845). When Tamburini defected to Covent Garden the following year, Coletti was re-engaged at Her Majesty's by Laporte's successor, Benjamin Lumley, where he created Francesco in Verdi's I masnadieri opposite Jenny Lind (1847). For the next four seasons he remained the leading Italian baritone on the London stage, being especially admired as the Doge in Verdi's I due Foscari. It was for him that Verdi lowered the part of Germont in the definitive version of La traviata, in whose first performance he took part at the Teatro Benedetto, Venice (1854). He also sang in the first Rome performance (1851) of Rigoletto (given under the title Viscardello). His last creation of importance was the title role of Saverio Mercadante's Pelagio at the Teatro S Carlo, Naples (1857), given at a time when Verdi was seriously considering him for the name part of the Re Lear that he never wrote. Coletti retired from the stage in 1869; in 1880 he published a treatise, La scuola di canto italiano, in Rome. Although he undertook comic roles, it was as a ‘baritono nobile’ that Coletti excelled. H. F. Chorley praised him as ‘an expressive, sound singer of the modern school’; to Thomas Carlyle he seemed ‘a man of deep and ardent sensibility…originally an almost poetic soul’. First in bel canto roles, then in Verdi, his performances were distinguished by their dramatic integrity and eschewal of mere virtuosity.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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