Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1774-1787 - Haymarket (Westminster)

Castrato singer and music teacher Venanzio Rauzzini was born in Camerino in the Roman Apennines on 18 December 1746. He studied in Rome and was employed in Munich by the Elector of Bavaria in 1767. He was also an able performer on the harpsichord and a skilful composer of comic operas. His younger musical brother Matteo was also in Munich (he later worked in Venice and in Dublin, where he died). Mozart composed the virtuoso solo motet Exsultate, Jubilate for him. Rauzzini arrived in London in October 1774, the first castrato to make Britain his home, and was engaged at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket (London’s home of Italian opera). He remained there as primo uomo for three seasons.

In autumn 1777 Rauzzini was replaced by Francesco Roncaglia as principal man at the opera, but he remained in demand as a performer in private concerts. He moved to Bath in 1787 where he lived in a town house. Haydn visited him there in August 1794. He made an impact as a teacher of singing and had a number of talented pupils, including Elizabeth Billington, John Braham, Elizabeth Clendining, Charles Incledon, Rosemond Mountain, and Nancy Storace. Rauzzini was acknowledged as the father of a new style in English singing’. He died at his home at no. 13 Gay Street in April 1810 and was buried in Bath Abbey.

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