Anna (or Ann) Selina Storace (Italian: [stoˈratʃe] ; 27 October 1765 –24 August 1817 ), known professionally as Nancy Storace, was an English operatic soprano. The role of Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro was written for and first performed by her.
Born in London, her singing career as a child prodigy began in England by the age of 12. This led to further study in Italy and to a successful singing career there during the late 1770s. While in Monza (or shortly before in Milan) in 1782,she was recruited to form part of Emperor Joseph II's new Italian opera company in Vienna, where the assembled singers who joined her "created in the two years leading up to the premiere of The Marriage of Figaro, were welded into the finest buffa ensemble anywhere."
In Vienna, she befriended both Mozart and Joseph Haydn. A sudden failure of her voice in 1785 caused her to withdraw from the stage for five months; though her career continued to be successful, she never fully recovered her former vocal prowess. After marrying in 1784, she left Vienna in 1787 and returned to London, where she continued her career, notably singing in her brother Stephen Storace's operas. She remained in London, but by 1808 had retired from the stage. She died in 1817.
Nancy Storace's mother was Elizabeth Trusler, the daughter of a pastry cook and the proprietor of Marylebone Gardens.Her father was Stefano Storace, an Italian who had emigrated to Ireland in 1750 and worked there as a double bass player until 1756. By 1759 he was performing in London; a reviewer called him "the first performer of his time on the double-bass". Storace also translated opera libretti from Italian into English, and arranged music for performance. Their older child Stephen Storace, who also achieved fame as a musician, was born in 1762.
Nancy Storace was born 1765 in London. She was a child prodigy: she first performed in public in Southampton in 1773; in April 1774 she made her first London appearance at the Haymarket Theatre. She studied voice with the celebrated castrato Venanzio Rauzzini and premiered the role of Cupido in Rauzzini's opera L'ali d'amore on 29 February 1776.
In 1778, Storace travelled to Naples in the company of her parents; her older brother Stephen was already there studying composition.She studied in Venice under Antonio Sacchini. The visit to Italy became an extended one as Storace embarked on a very successful career there, singing at first minor roles, then major ones. The composer Giuseppe Sarti wrote his opera Fra i due litiganti il terzo gode (1782, Milan) specifically for her; it achieved great success. shortly afterwards, Storace was recruited for Vienna along with the outstanding basso buffo Francesco Benucci. Storace as the prima donna and Benucci, who was also singing with her, were offered high salaries, over 4000 florins.
While in Italy, Storace met the Irish tenor Michael Kelly, who was for a long time her colleague as well as a friend. Kelly mentions her frequently in his memoirs.
The skill and self-confidence of the young soprano is illustrated by an oft-repeated anecdote told by Kelly:
Goldovsky suggests that in such exploits Storace was "planting the seeds" of later vocal trouble:
In 1783 the Austrian Emperor Joseph II founded a new opera company specialising in Italian opera buffa.At the time Storace was singing at the Teatro San Samuele in Venice. Count Giacomo Durazzo, who was both an experienced former theatre director and the Emperor's ambassador, engaged Michael Kelly, as he states in his Reminiscences. With further recruitment like the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte an outstanding ensemble was formed.
According to Dorothea Link, Storace performed in about 20 operas during her stay in Vienna.She sang in several world premieres in 1780s, including Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (with Benucci in the title role), the Countess in Salieri's La scuola de' gelosi (also with Benucci) and Angelica in Vicente Martín y Soler's Il burbero di buon cuore .
Storace seems often to have made a powerful impression on audience members. Hunter describes and quotes the diary of Count Karl von Zinzendorf, a government official who regularly attended the theater in Storace's time:
After Storace left Vienna in 1787, Zinzendorf's diary entries repeatedly express regret that later sopranos could not live up to her performances.
The Hungarian poet Ferenc Kazinczy attended a performance of The Marriage of Figaro and later remembered the powerful impression the work made on him, mentioning Storace in particular:
Storace was on friendly terms with both Mozart and Joseph Haydn. Mozart had been living and working in Vienna since 1781; Haydn enjoyed his visits to Vienna but was compelled by his employment with Prince Nikolaus Esterházy to spend most of his time at Esterháza, Hungary, and Eisenstadt, Austria.
Storace sang in Haydn's oratorio Il ritorno di Tobia in March 1784. Haydn later visited Storace with her brother Stephen in their home and played chamber music.He also wrote a cantata "for the voice of my dear Storace", thought to be Miseri noi, H. XXIVa.
Storace would have worked closely with Mozart on The Marriage of Figaro, which premiered in Vienna on 1 May 1786; it is possible that her lively acting style was the inspiration for the central character of Susanna.[ citation needed ] Mozart evidently made on-the-spot changes to the vocal part in response to Storace's special needs. Author Piero Melograni , expanding on earlier claims of musicologist Alfred Einstein, suggested that Mozart and Storace may have had a love affair.
When she was about to leave Vienna, Storace performed in a farewell concert on 23 February 1787. For this occasion Mozart wrote the concert recitative and aria "Ch'io mi scordi di te? [...] Non temer, amato bene" for her. The work, which is headed "Recitativo con Rondò. Composto per la Sigra: storace / dal suo servo ed amico W: A: Mozart. /viena li 26 / di decbr: 786", is a duet for soprano and piano with orchestra which, in view of Mozart's note in his own thematic catalogue ("Scena con Rondò mit klavierSolo. für Mad:selle storace und mich."), was very likely performed by her, with Mozart himself playing the piano part, at her farewell concert. In 2011 the British composer Peter Seabourne was commissioned by Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie to write an orchestral work Tu Sospiri taking words from this concert aria as a starting point.
On 1 June 1785,Storace suffered a catastrophic failure of her voice during a performance of her brother's opera Gli sposi malcontenti ("The unhappily married couple"). Kelly describes the event in his memoirs:
In Autumn 1785 Mozart collaborated with Antonio Salieri (in whose operas Storace also performed) and an unknown composer, Cornetti, on a short cantata entitled Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia , celebrating Storace's return to the stage. The cantata was believed to be lost until its discovery in November 2015 by musicologist and composer Timo Jouko Herrmann while doing research on Salieri in the collections of the Czech Museum of Music.
Even after the five months absence was over, Storace's voice was apparently far from fully recovered. Goldovsky recounts the subterfuges that both Salieri and Mozart engaged in to make it possible for the recovering soprano to take major roles in their operas; Mozart in particular rewrote passages of The Marriage of Figaro at lower pitch to help Storace get through her performances. Modern performances use the pitch values assigned by Mozart to later sopranos in the Prague and Vienna revival performances.
On 29 March 1784,she was married to John Abraham Fisher, a 40-year-old composer and violinist. The marriage went badly, as Fisher abused and may have beaten her. Word of this got to the Emperor, who was heavily involved in running his opera company, and he ordered Fisher to leave Vienna. Fisher complied, moving to Ireland. Storace was pregnant with a child, which was born on 30 January 1785; this daughter, Josepha Fisher, lived until 17 July 1785.
In 1787 she returned to England, where she first appeared at the King's Theatre in London that year.In fact, she hoped to return to Vienna for the 1788 Easter season, but the Emperor's opera budget would no longer permit it, as he had embarked on an expensive war with Turkey.
She contributed greatly to the success of her brother Stephen Storace's operas, including The Haunted Tower and The Siege of Belgrade , and she also appeared at the Handel Commemoration in Westminster Abbey in 1791and numerous concerts.
In 1791, Joseph Haydn arrived in London on the first of his two visits there, during which he achieved wealth and fame and for which composed his twelve London symphonies. Storace resumed her friendship and collaboration with Haydn at this time.She appeared in the first two of the Salomon concerts that featured Haydn's music. She also sang in the ninth and eleventh concerts as well as in the benefit concert for Haydn, and in the concert that celebrated the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Haydn by the University of Oxford. She also performed in concerts with Haydn during his second visit in 1794/1795.
In around 1796 Storace began a long liaison with the tenor John Braham, though they never married.Their break-up in 1815 was acrimonious and may have contributed to Storace's sudden death the following year; at any rate their son, William Spencer Harris Braham, certainly believed it had. Spencer, who had become an Anglican clergyman and a minor canon of Canterbury Cathedral, years later sought and obtained leave from Queen Victoria to change his family's name to Meadows, his petition having been received on the ground that his wife was the sole heir of her maternal grandfather of that name. In his mother's will, bequeathing property to the amount of £50,000, she styled herself a "spinster", though legally speaking she died a widow, predeceasing her widowed mother.
Storace is buried at St Mary-at-Lambeth (now the Garden Museum), where there is a commemorative plaque.
Matthews (1969) writes: "Even after her great success in Vienna and her subsequent popularity on the English stage, her voice was said to have had a sort of twang, and it was her vivacity and gift for comedy which made her reputation."
Antonio Salieri was an Italian classical composer, conductor, and teacher. He was born in Legnago, south of Verona, in the Republic of Venice, and spent his adult life and career as a subject of the Habsburg monarchy.
The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492, is a commedia per musica in four acts composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 1 May 1786. The opera's libretto is based on the 1784 stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro. It tells how the servants Figaro and Susanna succeed in getting married, foiling the efforts of their philandering employer Count Almaviva to seduce Susanna and teaching him a lesson in fidelity.
Johann Peter Salomon was a German violinist, composer, conductor and musical impresario. Although he was an accomplished violinist, he is best known for bringing Joseph Haydn to London and for conducting the symphonies that Haydn wrote during his stay in England. He also knew and worked with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Lo sposo deluso, ossia La rivalità di tre donne per un solo amante is a two-act opera buffa, K. 430, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart between 1783 and 1784. However, the opera was never completed and only a 20-minute fragment from act 1 exists.
Cecilia Bartoli, Cavaliere OMRI is an Italian coloratura mezzo-soprano opera singer and recitalist. She is best known for her interpretations of the music of Bellini, Handel, Mozart, Rossini and Vivaldi, as well as for her performances of lesser-known music from the Baroque and Classical period. She is known for having the versatility to sing both soprano and mezzo roles.
Michael Kelly was an Irish tenor, composer and theatrical manager who made an international career of importance in musical history. One of the leading figures in British musical theatre around the turn of the nineteenth century, he was a close associate of playwright and poet Richard Brinsley Sheridan. He also became friends with musicians such as Mozart and Paisiello, and created roles for the operas of both composers. With his friend and fellow singer Nancy Storace, he was one of the first tenors of that era from Britain and Ireland to become famous in Italy and Austria. In Italy he was also known as O'Kelly or even Signor Ochelli. Although the primary source for his life is his Reminiscences, doubt has been cast on the reliability of his own account, and it has been said that '[a]ny statement of Kelly's is immediately suspect.'
Stephen John Seymour Storace was an English composer of the Classical era, known primarily for his operas. His sister was the famous opera singer Nancy Storace.
John Braham was an English tenor opera singer born in London. His long career led him to become one of Europe's leading opera stars. He also wrote a number of songs, of minor importance, although "The Death of Nelson" is still remembered. His success, and that of his offspring in marrying into the British aristocracy, are also notable examples of Jewish social mobility in the early 19th century.
Irmgard Seefried was a distinguished German soprano who sang opera, sacred music, and lieder.
Florian Leopold Gassmann was a German-speaking Bohemian opera composer of the transitional period between the baroque and classical eras. He was one of the principal composers of dramma giocoso immediately before Mozart.
Edith Mathis is a Swiss soprano and a leading exponent of the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart worldwide. She is known for parts in Mozart operas, but also took part in premieres of operas such as Henze's Der junge Lord.
Diana Damrau is a German soprano who achieved international fame for her performances, primarily in opera, but also in concert and lieder. She has been successful in coloratura soprano roles since her early career, and gradually proceeded into heavier roles 19th-century Italian bel canto repertoire. Her signature roles include the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Violetta in La traviata.
La scuola de' gelosi is a dramma giocoso in two acts by Antonio Salieri, set to a libretto by Caterino Mazzolà.
Caterina Magdalena Giuseppa Cavalieri was an Austrian soprano.
Venanzio Rauzzini was an Italian castrato, composer, pianist, singing teacher and concert impresario. He is said to have first studied singing under a member of the Sistine Chapel Choir. He was a cantante soprano at the Socio Accademico of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. He studied with Giuseppe Santarelli in Rome. Though unlikely, it has been suggested that Rauzzini may not in fact have been a castrato, but rather had an endocrine condition that prevented his voice from breaking, hence his many affairs as he was thought to be "safe". That said, scholars such as Paul Rice and Brianna Robertson-Kirkland refute this idea.
Vincenzo Calvesi was an Italian operatic tenor and impresario. A skillful lyric tenor, he began his career performing in opera houses in Italy during the 1770s. He was active in Dresden in 1782 to 1783 and then spent most of his time performing in Vienna from 1785 to 1794. He is best remembered today for creating the role of Ferrando in the world premiere of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Così fan tutte in 1790. That same year the Viennese publication Grundsätze zur Theaterkritik described him as "one of the best tenors from Italy…with a voice naturally sweet, pleasant and sonorous." He was later active in Rome as an impresario up until 1811.
Francesco Benucci was an outstanding Italian bass/baritone singer of the 18th century. He sang a number of important roles in the operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Salieri and other composers.
Il ritorno di Tobia is an oratorio in two parts composed in 1775 by Joseph Haydn. The work is the first oratorio the composer wrote and, according to Jones, was "his most extended and ambitious composition up to that time".
Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia, K. 477a, is a solo cantata for soprano and fortepiano composed in 1785 by Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and a third, unknown composer, Cornetti, to a libretto written by the Vienna court poet Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is speculated that "Cornetti" may refer to Alessandro Cornetti, a vocal teacher and composer active in Vienna at the time, or that it is a pseudonym of either Salieri or Stephen Storace, a composer who organized the collaborative work to honor his famous sister. The music had been considered lost until November 2015, when German musicologist and composer Timo Jouko Herrmann identified the score while searching for music by one of Salieri's ostensible pupils, Antonio Casimir Cartellieri, in the archives of the Czech Museum of Music in Prague.
Gli sposi malcontenti is an opera buffa in 2 acts composed by Stephen Storace to an Italian libretto by Gaetano Brunati.