Personalities | Katharina Cavalieri | Classical Era | Opera
Katharina Cavalieri, the Austrian soprano, was both the student and the mistress of the court composer Antonio Salieri. In 1775, when she was 15, she made her debut in Vienna in the role of Sandrina in La finta giardiniera by Pasquale Anfossi (1727–97). Her voice was expressive and ‘full’, and she possessed a first-class singing technique. Though not beautiful, Cavalieri was graceful, and Mozart was much impressed with her. He wrote for her the role of Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Elvira’s aria ‘Mi tradi’ in the Vienna revival of Don Giovanni. Cavalieri complained that Elvira did not have sufficient music to sing and the special aria was Mozart’s answer. In 1789, Cavalieri sang the role of the Countess Almaviva in a revival of Le nozze di Figaro. Considered one of the best among the very gifted singers in Vienna in the late eighteenth century, Cavalieri retired from the opera stage in 1793.
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