Singer and composer Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci was born around 1735 in Siena. He received his musical education at the Naples conservatory and made his debut as a soprano castrato at Cagliari in 1750 during the marriage celebrations of the Duke of Savoy. He came to London in autumn 1758 being employed at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket.
After his second London season the opera company was in financial difficulties and Tenducci spent eight months in a debtor’s prison. He sang each summer from 1761 to 1764 at Ranelagh Gardens, where he performed some of his own songs (Lydia Melford, in Tobias Smollett’s Humphrey Clinker, imagined herself in paradise listening to him).
In summer 1765 he moved to Dublin performing at the Smock Alley Theatre. He became involved in a scandal when he eloped with Dorothea Maunsell, the daughter of a Dublin barrister (the story of the ensuing melodrama was told by her in The True and Genuine Narrative of Mr and Mrs Tenducci). He was imprisoned and finally freed on bail. Her family relented when Tenducci renounced the ‘errors of Popery’ and the couple got married in a Protestant ceremony in July 1767.
In February 1776 the marriage was annulled on the grounds of his impotence. Tenducci reappeared on the London stage in February 1777, singing at Drury Lane and Covent Garden. Financial difficulties drove him to France, where he met Mozart in August 1778.
Tenducci returned to London in 1779, performing in the Bach-Abel concerts at Hanover Square and in the 1785 Handel concerts at Westminster Abbey. In March 1786 he announced his retirement and moved to Italy, possibly because he was again in debt. He died in Genoa in January 1790.