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Francesca Cuzzoni

(1696—1778) singer


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(b Parma, 1696; d Bologna, 1778).

It. soprano, pupil of Lanzi. Probable début Parma 1714. Venice début 1718 as Dalinda in Pollarolo's Ariodante. London début, King's Th. 1723 in Handel's Ottone. Remained in Handel's opera co. (Royal Academy) until 1728, singing a leading role in all his operas. Her rivalry with Faustina Bordoni led to their fighting on the stage in 1727 during Bononcini's Astianatte. Cuzzoni was dismissed, but reinstated when the King threatened to end his subsidy. (Polly and Lucy in The Beggar's Opera are satirical portraits of Cuzzoni and Bordoni.) Sang in Vienna 1728–9, but not engaged by opera because of her exorbitant salary demands. Returned to It., where she sang in several of Hasse's operas, and to London (for the Opera of the Nobility) 1734. In 1739 returned to Vienna, moving to Hamburg and Amsterdam, and in 1750–1 to London, where she was arrested for debt. Farewell appearance London 1751. Last years spent in prison and in poverty, supporting herself by making buttons. Contemp. accounts leave no doubt of her greatness as an artist, especially in Handel.

Subjects: Opera.


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