Personalities | Francesco Benucci | Classical Era | Opera

c. 1745–1824, Italian

Francesco Benucci, an Italian bass, created the role of Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in 1786. Benucci spent the first 13 years of his career as an opera singer (1769–82) in Italy, before joining the renowned Italian company in Vienna. Benucci remained in Vienna until 1795, with a short break in London in 1789. The London visit, which he made with the English soprano Nancy Storace (1765–1817) – reputedly his mistress – was important for English opera audiences. Benucci and Storace introduced them to their first piece from a Mozart opera – ‘Crudel! perchè?’ from Le nozze di Figaro. Mozart himself admired Benucci’s voice, calling it ‘especially good’. It was deep, rounded and full, and despite the ‘weight’ of the bass voice, Benucci was able to use it with delicacy.

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