Charles Incledon

(c. 1758—1826) singer

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Venanzio Rauzzini (1746—1810) singer and music teacher


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(b St Keverne, Cornwall, bap. 5 Feb 1763; d Worcester, 11 Feb 1826). English tenor. The son of a medical practitioner, he disliked his baptismal name and took the name Charles instead. He was a chorister at Exeter Cathedral under William Jackson and was locally renowned as a boy soloist before he joined the navy, where he attracted attention as a singer. In 1784 he made his stage début in Southampton as Alphonso in Samuel Arnold's Castle of Andalusia and the next year moved to Bath, where he sang with the Bath-Bristol theatre company and studied with Venanzio Rauzzini, who helped him get an engagement in London at Vauxhall Gardens. He sang at Covent Garden (1790–1815), quickly establishing himself as the leading English stage tenor. He appeared in many operas and afterpieces by William Shield and others. Incledon was popular in Dublin, particularly as Young Meadow in Love in a Village and Orpheus in an adaptation of C. W. Gluck's Ofeo ed Euridice and from 1802 toured widely with a series of solo entertainments. Incledon made a successful visit to North America in 1817–18, although his voice was then past its prime. His acting was not generally admired, but his dramatic rendering of the ballad The Storm (with painted backdrop of a ship in distress) held audiences spellbound. His West Country accent and somewhat flashy personality limited his success as a concert artist, but he sang in several Covent Garden oratorio seasons and was a soloist in the first London performance of Joseph Haydn's The Creation (1800). Haydn had heard him in Shield's The Woodman (1791) and noted: ‘[Incledon] has a good voice and quite a good style, but he uses the falsetto to excess. He sang a trill on high C and ran up to G’. For many of his contemporaries his impassioned performances of nautical and sentimental ballads exemplified true English singing. William Robson (1846) remembered that ‘never was so sound, so rich, so powerful, so sweet an English voice as Incledon's’.


From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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