The Blinding of a Rivalry

In: Historical Events

Submitted By tchang817
Words 2305
Pages 10
Tim Chang
Music 261: Professor Kasunic

The Blinding of a Rivalry

Both Cuzzoni and Faustina were superstars of their era with many similar, yet contrasting characteristics. Francesca Cuzzoni was born on April 2, 1696 in Parma, Italy. She started her career at 18 in Italy and continued to strive from that point on in various parts of Europe. In 1722, the established composer, George Frideric Handel, recruited Cuzzoni to be the star of his Royal Academy of Music. She eventually joined Handel in England in 1723. Faustina Bordoni was born on March 30, 1697 in Venice, Italy. She, like Cuzzoni, made her debut in her hometown at the age of 19 and continued to flourish in this career. While Cuzzoni moved to London to work with Handel in 1723, Faustina continued to thrive in Italy. It was not until 1726 when Handel drew Faustina over to London to “rival” Cuzzoni in the Royal Academy of Music. Think of these two stars of Handel as the Britney and Christina of the 1720’s. The Academy is where most the media about their rivalry is expressed. Scholars such as Isabelle Emerson, Winton Dean, Steven LaRue and Suzanne Aspden have various viewpoints on Handel’s contribution to this rivalry. Emerson, writing in 2005 in her research of Five Centuries of Women Singers, argues that Cuzzoni and Faustina, though rivals, relied on each other for success. Emerson writes that, “rivalry aside, the two artists must have complemented each other remarkable well as singers. Contemporary descriptions emphasize not only contrasts of vocal type, but also of role and speak of the affective nature of Cuzzoni’s pathetic heroines as opposed to the active, passionate characters portrayed by Bordoni in Handel’s productions.” She states that they contrast in various ways, but harmonize each other. It is obvious from their biographies that Cuzzoni and Faustina have many similarities…...

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