(b Wullersdorf, Lower Austria, 7 June 1736; d Vienna, 6 Aug 1816). Austrian tenor, librettist and composer, brother of the composer Joseph Frieberth, with whom he is often confused. He was a musician in the Esterházy retinue from 1 January 1759, numbering among the highest-paid singers; also in 1759, Prince Paul Esterházy sent him to Italy to study singing. Joseph Haydn wrote a number of roles and arias for him and for his wife of 1769, the former Maria Magdalena Spangler, and seems to have aided their careers at Eisenstadt out of friendship. The couple took the roles of Tobias and Sarah in the première of Il ritorno di Tobia (Vienna, 1775), and Friberth wrote the libretto (in Italian) to Haydn's opera L᾽incontro improvviso of the same year (based on L. H. Dancourt's La rencontre imprévue, set by C. W. Gluck in 1764), in which he created the role of Ali. He may also have adapted Lo speziale (Sempronio, 1768), Le pescatrici (Fresellino, 1770) and L᾽infedeltà delusa (Filippo, 1773). He also created Don Pelagio in La canterina (1767). He had an immense range (Frisellino's ‘Tra tuoni e lampi’ in Le pescatrici reaches c’’’), and he was an accomplished actor. After leaving Esterházy's service in 1776, Friberth became Kapellmeister at Vienna's two Jesuit churches (the Kirche Am Hof and the Universitätskirche) and at the Minoritenkirche. He retained these posts until his death and devoted himself primarily to the composition of church music, including nine masses. He also sang in Katharina Schindler's troupe (1776), published 24 lieder in Joseph von Kurzböck's Sammlung deutscher Lieder für das Klavier (iii, 1780), and from 1771 was a member of the Vienna Tonkünstler-Societät, which he later served in various important administrative capacities. An Italian journey of 1796, underwritten by Prince Esterházy, is said to have brought him the pope's Order of the Golden Spur. Some Italian and Latin vocal pieces by him are extant, and there are editions of nine of his lieder (DTÖ, liv, Jg.xxvii/2, 1920/R).
From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.