Venanzio Rauzzini in Britain

Venanzio Rauzzini in Britain

Castrato, Composer, and Cultural Leader

Paul F. Rice


University of Rochester Press



Examines the remarkable career of leading soprano castrato Venanzio Rauzzini (1746-1810), the first castrato to make Britain his home.
Venanzio Rauzzini (1746-1810), the celebrated Italian castrato, is best known for his performance in Mozart's Lucio Silla in 1772, with which Mozart was so pleased that he composed for the singer the famous motet Exsultate Jubilate. In 1774, Rauzzini moved to London where he performed three seasons of serious operas at the King's Theatre. From 1777 until his death in 1810, he was the director of the concert series in Bath, a series that matched the prestige of any that were given in London. In addition, he composed prolifically, writing music for eleven operas.

This book is a study of Rauzzini's remarkable yet often overlooked career in Britain. Paul Rice chronicles Rauzzini's performances at the King's Theatre and examines his leadership of the Bath subscription concerts from 1780-1810, recovering much of the repertory. Rice shows in detail how Rauzzini responded musically to the social and political conditions of his adopted country, and analyzes the castrato's reception, as well as compositional choices, shedding new light on changing musical tastes in late eighteenth-century Britain.

Paul F. Rice is Professor of Musicology at the School of Music, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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October 2015
2 black and white, 47 line illustrations
414 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580465328
Format: Hardback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS028000, MUS050000, HIS015000
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Table of Contents

Rauzzini's European Career
A Debut Season at the King's Theatre, 1774-75
Two Further Seasons at the King's Theatre, 1775-77
Concerts and Composing, 1774-81
A Continuing Relationship with the King's Theatre
A Life in Bath
The Bath Concerts
Final Curtain
Appendix A: Concert Programs, 1786-1810
Appendix B: Operatic Roles Performed by Venanzio Rauzzini


[Venanzio Rauzzini] was an intrepid survivor in a world that held Italians, and particularly Italian castrati, as highly suspect. Paul Rice has brought together a great deal of biographical detail about Rauzzini's life. He has made it possible for us easily to flesh-out the headline facts that are presented in the Grove and Oxford articles and the work of other authors. [Musical] extracts and analyses...give us an impression of Rauzzini's own evolving vocal abilities and those of his singers. The author seems to have left no stone unturned in seeking out his subject. BRIO [Andrew Pink]

The scope of [Rauzzini's] influence enables Rice to...use Rauzzini's career as a focal point in a broader examination of social and cultural life in Brain, and specifically London and Bath. [Rice] attempts to glean information about the character of his sound, not only from contemporary descriptions but also from the music written for him by Mozart and Sacchini. Rice manages his materials admirably, and there is much here to interest scholars of eighteenth-century music, particularly those interested in concert culture and the practicalities of singers' lives. An engaging portrait of a man who left a considerable legacy across many areas of musical life. AD PARNASSUM [Chloe Valenti]

Fascinating insights concerning Rauzzini's compositional techniques and the characteristics of the arias he wrote for himself. The musical analysis undertaken in the book, illustrated with a large number of music examples, reveals Rauzzini's accomplished compositional style for the different technical demands of domestic music-making. . . Broaden[s] the common picture of the virtuoso opera singer and demonstrate[s] his expertise in different fields and his acceptance at the heart of Britain's social and cultural life. MUSIC & LETTERS [Ingeborg Zechner]

Rauzzini is unique among castratos for having spent more than half his life in England. Rice is the first to tackle in detail the whole of Rauzzini's professional life across the 36 years the singer spent in England. The programmes for these concerts give a fascinating picture of changing tastes. Rauzzini was a canny director, endeavouring to engage the best soloists. Rice provides a generous quantity of music examples that demonstrate Rauzzini's mastery of the galant style. A rich resource. MUSICAL TIMES [Patricia Howard]

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