Guglielmo Ettore

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(b Sicily, c 1740; d Ludwigsburg, wint. 1771–2). Italian tenor. He sang in Naples in Niccolò Jomelli's Temistocle in 1757 and Johann Hasse's Achille in Sciro in 1759. He later moved to Bologna where Padre Martini heard him and recommended him to Andrea Bernasconi in Munich. In 1761 he was engaged there, remaining in service until 1771. He appeared in several Italian centres in the 1760s, among them Venice and Verona in 1765, in operas by Giuseppe Sarti, and Turin, where in 1767 he sang in Ferdinando Bertoni's Tancredi and Quirino Gasparini's Mitridate, rè di Ponto. By then he was a Cavaliere (‘d'Ettore’). He sang the title role in Bernasconi's La clemenza di Tito at Munich in 1768 and Admetus in Pietro Guglielmi's Alceste the next year in Milan. Charles Burney reported that he was the most applauded of the singers in Antonio Sacchini's Scipio in Cartagena in Padua in 1770; elsewhere he referred to him as reckoned ‘the best singer of his kind on the serious opera stage’. C. F. D. Schubart wrote that he had ‘never heard anyone sing with the feeling of a d'Ettore’ (Schubart's Leben und Gesinnungen, Stuttgart, 1791–3, i, p. 94). Ettore's range extended from A to d” and his vocal abilities included a capacity for wide leaps. In 1770–71 he sang the title role in W.A. Mozart's Mitridate in Milan; the young composer had to write five versions of his entrance aria to satisfy the tenor, and Ettore ultimately included an aria by Gasparini (displaying his splendid top c”) in place of another of Mozart's. Relations were so strained that eight years later the mention of Ettore's name evoked unpleasant memories for Mozart. Ettore was engaged at the Württemberg court on 28 January 1771 but died the next winter. His compositions, which are unpublished, include arias and many ‘Duetti Notturni’ written in a fluent melodic style.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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