Andrea Pacini

(c. 1690—1764)

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Senesino (c. 1680—1759)


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(b Lucca, c1690; d Lucca, March 1764). Italian alto castrato and composer. He sang in Venice (12 operas: 1708, début in Tomaso Albinoni's Astarto, 1714–16, 1726), Florence (1709–10, 1720, 1725–6, 1731–2), Genoa (1710–11, 1720, 1728), Rome (1711, 1721–2), Lucca (1711, 1714–15, 1724, 1730), Ferrara (1713, 1731), Naples (ten operas at the S Bartolomeo and the royal palace, 1713–14, 1722–3), Livorno (1717–18), Bologna (1719–20, 1722), Turin (1719), Milan (1719–20) and Parma (1724, 1729). He appeared in operas by all leading composers from Alessandro Scarlatti, Albinoni and Antonio Vivaldi to Nicola Porpora, Johann Hasse and Leonardo Vinci. He was elected a member of the Accademia Filarmonica at Bologna in 1721. From 1720 to 1730 he had the title of virtuoso to Prince Antonio of Parma. He was engaged by the Royal Academy in London as second man to Senesino for 1724–5, making his début in the title role of G. F. Handel's Tamerlano and scoring a success: Lady Bristol told her husband that ‘the new man takes extremely’. He sang Ptolemy in Handel's Giulio Cesare (Handel composed a new aria for him) and Unulfo in Rodelinda, and in Attilo Ariosti's Artaserse and Dario and the Vinci—Giuseppe Orlandini Elpidia. The parts Handel wrote for him demand a good technique but limited range (compass a to e”). In later life Pacini became a priest, and often took part in the annual celebration of S Croce at his native town. He composed a mass for its St Cecilia Festival in 1744. There are two caricatures of him by A. M. Zanetti in the Cini collection. He appears with other singers in a J. -A. Watteau drawing in the Louvre, executed on a visit to Paris in 1721.

From The Grove Book of Opera Singers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Opera.

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