Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1710-1728 - Haymarket (Westminster)

Operatic soprano Elisabetta Pilotti was born around 1680 (place of birth is not known). She was married to the Venetian oboist, cellist, and harpsichordist Giovanni Schiavonetti. Both were associated with the House of Hanover as they were employed at the court of Sophia Dorothea where they first met Handel. The couple came to London in 1710 when Giovanni took a position as a court musician for George II, Sophia’s brother.

Soon after arriving, Pilotti-Schiavonetti was offered a position at the Queen’s Theatre, Haymarket. Having made her debut in November 1710 in an opera by Francesco Mancini, she sang the role of Armida in the momentous premiere of Handel’s Rinaldo, his first opera for the London stage. The work was an enormous success and she starred in all of the fourty-seven performances in the 1716/7 season.

Handel went on to compose at least three more very demanding roles for her. She is said to have had a bitter rivalry with the Queen’s other leading soprano, Isabella Girardeau. The couple returned to Hanover in 1728 where Giovanni died in March 1730, followed by Elisabetta in May 1742.

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