Singer, salonnière, and impresario Teresa Cornelys [also known as Mrs Pompeati, Mrs Trenti, and Mrs Cornelys] was born Anna-Maria Teresa Imer in Venice, probably in 1723, the daughter of actor Giuseppe Imer. Particulars of her life before 1759 derive from Giacomo Casanova with whom she had an affair (and a daughter) in his unreliable History of my Life.
She had a moderately successful career as a professional singer in Italy. About 1745 she married the dancer Angelo Francesco Pompeati and that same year she sang at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, when Gluck was the house composer. She did not return to London until October 1759 with financial support from her latest lover, the Dutch merchant Jan Rijgerboos Cornelis, whose name she used during most her life in London.
In May 1760, she leased Carlisle House, Soho Square, and began her ‘entertainments’ that autumn. She organised balls and masquerades, ran a celebrated salon, and provided ladies of the night at hefty prices. On 23 January 1765 she hosted the first of the ‘Bach-Abel’ concerts. Subscribers paid five guineas to attend a series of concerts, which were directed by Bach and Abel in alternate weeks. For the 1768 season her performers moved to William Almack’s New Rooms in King Street. Her luck had run out. She was declared bankrupt and ended up in the Fleet prison where she died in August 1797.