Opera Scotland

Luigi Arditi Suggest updates

Born Crescentino, 22 July 1822.

Died Hove, 1 May 1903.

Italian composer and conductor.

Luigi Arditi was one of the most important figures on the music scene in Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century. He spent the early years of his conducting career (1847-55) in the United States, before settling in Britain.

As a composer he is only a minor figure, responsible for several operas and a significant number of shorter vocal pieces. His charming song 'Il bacio (The Kiss)' has always remained justifiably popular with coloratura sopranos.

He trained at the Milan Conservatory, concentrating initially on violin, and made his debut in 1843 as an orchestra director. He worked as a conductor in Italy for several years. In 1846, while on tour to Havana, he met the double bass virtuoso and composer Giovanni Bottesini, and toured the USA with him giving joint recitals. He continued to work in America until 1855. After a further international tour as far as Constantinople, he settled in London. During his later career, from his London base he made further tours to America (with Mapleson's company) as well as to St Petersburg, Vienna and other European centres.

Between 1858 and 1892, during his years at various London houses, he conducted the first British performances of several operas, including I vespri siciliani (Drury Lane 1859), Faust (Her Majesty's 1863), Der fliegende Holländer (Drury Lane 1870), Un ballo in maschera (Lyceum 1861), Mefistofele (Her Majesty's 1880), Cavalleria rusticana (Shaftesbury 1891), and Hänsel und Gretel (Daly's 1894). He also toured widely, leading companies under the management of both Mapleson and Patti.

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