Opera Scotland

Giusto Fernando Tenducci

Giusto Fernando Tenducci

Posted 15 Oct

A recent book by Helen Berry has brought to light again the remarkable story of the castrato singer, Tenducci.

Born in Siena, he made his professional debut on the operatic stage at the age of seventeen, in Venice. Recognised as one of the great singers of the age, he travelled to London aged around twenty-two, and performed across the British Isles. In 1762 he appeared at Covent Garden in the title role of Artaxerxes, which Arne had composed for him.

Tenducci was eventually attracted to Scotland by the payment on offer from the Edinburgh Musical Society, founded in 1728. Tenducci was their principal singer from mid 1768 to the end of 1769. He sang at their concerts and played the harpsichord. When Artaxerxes was given, three Scottish airs were interpolated. George Thomson, who gathered Scottish songs and ballads, and later commissioned arrangements of them from Haydn and Beethoven, was inspired by hearing Tenducci sing Scottish ballads in Edinburgh.

Learn more about his fascinating story - buy the book The Castrato and his Wife by Helen Berry here.

Look at Gainsborough's portrait of Tenducci here.

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