Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1774-1829 - Golden Square (Westminster)

Wardrobe master and costume designer Vincenzo Sestini was born in 1743 Lastra a Signa, near Florence, the elder brother of opera singer Giovanna Sestini. How he came to arrive in London at roughly the same time as his sister is not clear. She had been contracted for the 1774/5 season as first buffa at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, after a successful spell in Lisbon.

There is no evidence that he had joined her in Portugal. He had no reputation that would have encouraged the King’s Theatre management to hire him. He most likely financed his own journey to London. He made made his debut as a singer at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, in November 1774. Lack of talent soon made an end to his dream of being a vocalist. Changing direction, he was lister as tailor for the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, and gradually made his way up.

When Gluck’s Orfeo was performed in May 1785, he designed all the dresses entirely new’. The disastrous 1789 fire at the King’s Theatre was a blow to him, but he was soon in demand again in Covent Garden and elsewhere. Living in Golden Square, Westminster, his position was variously described as Maître de la Garderobe or as Superindendent of the Wardrobe. By 1797 he had moved to nearby Sherrard Street. His last advertised event was the dress design for a performance of Vittorio Alfieri’s historical tragedy Bruto Primo (dedicated to George Washington) on 5 June 1826. Sestino died in May 1829 in Chelsea where he had spent his final years.

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