Reminiscences of Michael Kelly, of the King's Theatre, and Theatre Royal Drury Lane (2 Volume Set): Including a Period of Nearly Half a Century

Overview

Michael Kelly (1762–1826) was an Irish singer and composer who studied music in a Naples conservatory before touring Europe and performing for royalty. His voyage to Italy began with a brush with pirates, one of whom was a childhood acquaintance. Kelly also found himself stranded penniless in Venice, spent a night in prison after a fist fight at the theatre, and had a narrow escape from revolutionary France. He is probably best remembered for creating the roles of Don Basilio and Don Curzio in the first ...

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Overview

Michael Kelly (1762–1826) was an Irish singer and composer who studied music in a Naples conservatory before touring Europe and performing for royalty. His voyage to Italy began with a brush with pirates, one of whom was a childhood acquaintance. Kelly also found himself stranded penniless in Venice, spent a night in prison after a fist fight at the theatre, and had a narrow escape from revolutionary France. He is probably best remembered for creating the roles of Don Basilio and Don Curzio in the first performance, in 1786, of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, of which he describes the rehearsal period and reception. He later joined London's Theatre Royal as both a performer and composer and opened a music shop, which went bankrupt. These memoirs, published in 1826, cover an extraordinary life during turbulent times but also provide rich first-hand insights into a key period in theatre history.

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Table of Contents

Volume 1: 1. The author's birth and parentage; 2. Departure of the author for Naples; 3. Visits to Baja, Posilipo, the Grotta del Cane, and the Capo del Monte; 4. Interview with the King and Queen of Naples; 5. Kelly's visit to Rome, with Mr. Stewart and family; 6. Return of the author to Naples; 7. Arrival of the author in the Bay of Leghorn; 8. Florence and its vicinity; 9. Arrival at Venice, where the author, disappointed of his engagement, was left friendless and pennyless; 10. Departure of the author, and Signor and Signora Benini, from Venice for Germany; 11. Procession of the Doge to St. Marc's in passion-week; 12. Introduction of the author to the Marquess and Marchioness Bevi Acqua; 13. Grand Theatre at Parma; 14. Carnival at Vienna; 15. Visit to the great Haydn, at Eisenstadt; 16. His Royal Highness the Duke of York at Vienna; 17. Palace at Luxemburgh; 18. First performance of the Nozze di Figaro; 19. The author entreats leave of the Emperor to go to England; 20. A German journey; 21. Italian opera at Stutgard; 22. Faubourg St. Germains; 23. Jack Johnstone and Mrs. Billington, in Love in a Village; 24. Fine taste of his late Majesty, in a suggestion as to the manner of performing the chorus, 'Life up your heads'; 25. Introduction to Tate Wilkinson; 26. Shakespeare's jubilee; 27. First year of George Colman the Younger's management at the Haymarket; 28. Mrs. Siddon at Calais. Volume 2: 1. First performance of the Siege of Belgrade; 2. The author's mistake in taking Sir Charles Turner for Hobler, the chorus-singer; 3. The author at Paris; 4. Paesiello's comic opera, the 'Zingari in Fiera', at the King's Theatre; 5. The Beggar's Opera prohibited in Dublin; 6. Edinburgh; 7. First performance of the Wheel of Fortune; 8. The author apprehended as a French spy at Dover; 9. Fracas at Plymouth Dock; 10. Anecdotes of Monk Lewis; 11. Mazzanti, the Italian soprano, at the performance of the Beggar's Opera Travestied; 12. Mrs. Billington's dismay at the unexpected appearance of Monsieur de Felican, her husband; 13. Difficulty of eating on the stage; 14. The King's Theatre opened by Mr. Francis Goold; 15. Tobin's Honey Moon; 16. Miss De Camp in the 'Forty Thieves'; 17. Madame Catalani dancing in a kitchen at Bangor, to the music of an old blind harper; 18. Covent Garden Theatre burnt to the ground; 19. The author's last appearance on the stage; 20. Kean's first appearance as a tragedian in 'Shylock'; 21. Arrival at Paris; 22. Death of Sheridan; 23. List of sixty-two dramatic pieces, for which Kelly composed the music; Appendix.

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