Houses & Companies | French Versus Italian Opera | Early Romantic | Opera
At the start of the Romantic era, French and Italian opera were fighting it out for possession of the opera stage in Paris. However, in attempting to turn back the tide of Italian taste and vocal technique, which had ‘invaded’ the opera in France, the French were at a severe disadvantage. As one contemporary English guidebook to the Paris opera commented: ‘Nothing can be worse than the style of singing which characterizes the French School.’ Worse still, the French style was fighting a losing battle when the Italian had the keen support of no less a personage than Napoleon Bonaparte, the effective ruler of France. Napoleon and his wife Josephine were enthusiastic patrons of the new Théâtre Italien, which opened in Paris in 1801. Here, Italian operas virtually monopolized the repertoire and the great stars of the show were Italian singers – the contralto Giuseppina Grassini (1773–1850) and the castrato Girolamo Crescentini (1752–1846). Subsequently, the Italians grasped the management of the Théâtre Italien. Rossini was musical director from 1824 to 1826 and was officially named ‘Inspector General of Singing in France’ by the government. Eventually, even the more chauvinistic Paris Opéra and Opéra-Comique had to bow to the vogue for Italian opera.
Houses & Companies | La Scala, Milan | High Romantic | Opera
The Voice | The Castrati | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
The Voice | The Training of the Castrati | Late Baroque | Opera
Houses & Companies | Opéra-Comique | Early Romantic | Opera
Houses & Companies | Paris Opéra | High Romantic | Opera
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