Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1839-1878 - Mulgrave House (Fulham)

Tenor Giovanni Mario was born Giovanni Matteo De Candia on 17 October 1810 in Cagliari, Sardinia, into family belonging to the Savoyard aristocracy. He studied at the Royal Military Academy at Turin where he became politically active in support of Italian unification. In November 1836 he was dismissed from the army and fled to France. In Paris he found the company of other Italian exiles. It was here that he became aware of his talent as a singer. His family objected to him pursuing a lowly’ musical career which made him adopt the stage name of [Giovanni] Mario. He made his debut in November 1838 in Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable at the Paris Opéra and first appeared in London a year later in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia. He then joined the Théâtre Italien. At that time he met Milan-born soprano Giulia Grisi. From 1841 they lived together and enjoyed great success on the London stage (they eventually married in London in 1844 after her divorce proceedings were out of the way). Giovanni sang in the première of Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Verdi created the main tenor aria in I due Foscari for him. A photo survives taken by Negretti & Zambra on which Giovanni and Giulia enact a scene from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. The picture was taken in the garden of Mulgrave House, Fulham, their London home from 1852. He sang in London from 1847 until 1867, and again during a farewell concert at Covent Garden in 1871. A benefit concert was staged for him in 1878. He died in Rome in December 1883.

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