Personalities | Francesca Cuzzoni | Late Baroque | Opera
Singer Cuzzoni was born and trained in Parma, where she gave her first performance in 1714. She first appeared with Faustina Bordoni in Venice in 1718, and they sang together several times during the early 1720s. Her London debut in Handel’s Ottone (1722) was a sensation. Handel composed notable roles for her including Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare in Egitto), Asteria (Tamerlano), and the title role in Rodelinda. Cuzzoni sang in every Royal Academy opera until its closure in 1728, although this almost ended prematurely when only the intervention of the king could prevent the academy from dismissing her after the notorious on-stage brawl with Faustina. She returned to Italy and performed in several operas by Hasse, before joining the ‘Opera of the Nobility’ in 1734. In the late 1730s she sang for Leo and Caldara, but afterwards her career faded and she died in poverty.
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