Broschi, Carlo

, better known under the name of Farinello, was born the 24th of January, 1705, at Andria, | in the kingdom of Naples, of a family noble, though poor. From the patent of his knighthood of the order of Calatrava, it appears that he was indebted for the lasting agreeableness of his voice, not to a voluntary mutilation from the thirst of gain, but that he was obliged to undergo the cruel operation on account of a dangerous hurt he received in his youth, by a fall from a horse. He owed the first rudiments of the singing art to his father Salvatore Brosco, and his farther formation to the famous Porpora. At, that time there flourished at Naples three wealthy brothers of the name of Farina, whose family is now extinct. These persons vouchsafed him their distinguished patronage, and bestowed on him the name of Farinello. For some time his fame was confined to the convivial concerts of his patrons, till it happened that the count of Schrautenbach, nephew of the then viceroy, came to Naples. To celebrate his arrival, -the viceroy and his familiar friend Antonio Caracciolo, prince della Torella, caused the opera of “Angelica and Medoro” to be represented, in which Metastasio and Farinello plucked the first laurels of their immortal fame.

Thus fortune united the two greatest luminaries that have appeared on the theatre in modern times, at the entrance on their career. Metastasio was then not more than eighteen, and Farinello not above fifteen years of age. This circumstance gave birth to an intimacy between them, which at length was improved into a cordial friendship, supported and confirmed, as long as they lived, by a regular intercourse of epistolary correspondence.

Soon after Farinello was called to the principal theatres in Italy, and every where richly rewarded. Between the years 1722 and 1784, he gave proofs of his powers at Naples, Rome, Venice, and most of the cities of Italy; and indeed more than once in almost all these places; six times at Rome, and at Venice seven. The report of his talents at length found its way across the Alps. Lord Essex, the English ambassador at Turin, received a commission to invite him to London; where, for six months performance, he was paid 1500l. At Rome, during the run of a favourite opera, there was a struggle every night between him and a famous player on the trumpet, in a song accompanied by that instrument; this, at first, seemed amicable, and merely sportive, till the audience began to interest themselves in the contest, and to take different sides. | After severally swelling out a note, in which each manifested the power of his lungs, and tried to rival the other in brilliancy and force, they had both a swell and a shake together, by thirds, which was continued so long, while the audience eagerly waited the event, that both seemed to be exhausted; and, in fact, the trumpeter wholly spent, gave it up, thinking however his antagonist as much tired as himself, and that it would be a drawn battle; when Farinello, with a smile on his countenance, shewing he had only been sporting with him all this time, broke out all at once in the same breath, with fresh vigour, and not only swelled and shook the note, but ran the most rapid and difficult divisions, and was at last silenced only by the acclamations of the audience. From this period may be dated that superiority which he ever maintained over all his contemporaries.

Scarcely ever had any singer a like capacity of perpetually giving new accessions of force to his voice, and always with pleasure; and when it had attained to the highest degree of energy, to keep it for a long time at that pitch which the Italians call mezza di voce. While he sung at London, in the year 1734, in an opera composed by his brother Riccardo, at another theatre they were performing an opera set to music by Handel, wherein Senesini, Carestini, and the no less celebrated Cuzzoni, had parts. Farinello from the very beginning was acknowledged to have the superiority by a mezza di voce, though the rival theatre was favoured by the king and the princess of Orange, of whom the latter had been Handel’s scholar. By this inferiority it fell into a debt of nine thousand pounds.

The desire of exciting admiration, and of captivating the ear more than the mind of an auditor, still adhered to him, but his good fortune provided him with an opportunity of discovering and correcting this error. During his youth he was three times at Vienna. In the year 1732 he was there declared chamber-singer to his imperial majesty. The emperor Charles V I. shewed him great affection, partly on account of his excellency as a singer, and partly also because he spoke the Neapolitan dialect with great formality and drollery. The emperor was a nice judge of singing, and would frequently accompany him on the harpsichord. One day he entered into a friendly conversation with him on music, and praued indeed his wonderful force and | dexterity in this art, but blamed the too great affectation of an excellence which does not touch the heart. “Choose,” said he, “a simpler and easier method; and be sure that, with the gifts wherewith you are so richly endowed by nature, you will captivate every hearer.” This advice had uch an effect on Farinello, thai, from that hour he struck out into a different manner. He confessed, himself, to Dr. Burney, that the emperor’s gracious advice had had more effect upon him than all the lessons of his teachers, and all the examples of his brother artists. Whoever is desirous of knowing more concerning the perfection he had reached in the art he professed, will get all the satisfaction he can require on that head, by perusing the “Riflessioni sopra il canto figurato” of Giovanni Baptista Mancini.

From the moral failings to which theatrical performers are commonly addicted, he was either totally free, or indulged them with moderation. At first he was fond of gaming, but after some time he forsook it entirely. He behaved with sigular probity to the managers of the opera. As they paid him richly, he made it a point of honour to promote their interest as far as it depended on him. For this reason he carefully avoided every thing that might be a hindrance to him in the fulfilling of his engagements. He even set himself a strict regimen, and moderated himself in his amusements. He was so conscientious on this head, that he would not for any consideration be prevailed on to let a song be heard from him out of the theatre; and, during Jus three years stay in England, he constantly passed the spring season in the country, for the sake of invigorating his lungs, by breathing a free and wholesome air. In his xpences he was fond of elegance, yet he indulged it without extravagance; so’that even before he left Italy, he had already laid out a capital upon interest at Naples, and had purchased a country-house, with lands about it, situated at the distance of half ah Italian mile from Bologna. By degrees he rebuilt the mansion in a sumptuous style, in hopes of making it a comfortable retreat for his declining years: and there he afterwards ended his life.

In the year 1737, when he had reached the summit of fame, he appeared for the last time on the stage at London; from whence he departed for the court of Spain, whither he was invited through the solicitations of queen Elizabeth, vho had known his excellence at Parma. Her design was, | by the ravishing notes of this great master, to wean her spouse king Philip V. from his passion for the chace, to which his strength was no longer adequate. On his way to Madrid, he had the honour to give a specimen of his talents before the French king at Paris; and we are told by Riccoboni, that all the audience were so astonished at hearing him, that the French, who otherwise detested the Italian music, began from that time to waver in their notions. He had scarcely set his foot in Madrid, but the king hastened to hear him; and was so much taken with the agreeableness of his song, that he immediately settled on him, by a royal edict, a salary equal to what he had received in England, together with an exemption from all public taxes, as a person destined to his familiar converse; and granted him, besides, the court equipages and livery, free of all expence. He could not pass a day without him; not only on account of his vocal abilities, but more on account of the agreeable talents he possessed for conversation. He spoke French and Italian elegantly, had some knowledge of the English and German, and in a short time learnt the Castilian. By his courtesy and discretion he gained the affection of every one. In his converse he was sincere to an uncommon degree, even towards the royal personages who honoured him with their intimacy; and it was jchiefly this that induced the monarch to set so high a value on him. His first words, when he waked in the morning, were regularly these: “Let Farinello be told that I expect him this evening at the usual hour.” Towards midnight Farinello appeared, and was -never dismissed till break of day, when he betook himself to rest, in the apartments assigned him in the palace, though he had likewise a house in the city. To the king he never sung more than two or three pieces; and, what will seem almost incredible, they were every evening the same. Excepting when the king was to go to the holy sacrament on the following day, Farinello was never at liberty to get a whole night’s sleep.

Farinello had as great an affection for the king, as that prince had for him; and had nothing more at heart than to cheer and enliven his spirits: and indeed herein he had the happy talent of succeeding to admiration, though himself was inclined to melancholy. Under Ferdinand, Philip’s successor, he had an ampler field for the display of his genius and skill. This monarch had a good ear for music, | and knew how to judge properly of it; as he had studied under Domenico Scarlatti, who had likewise been tutor to queen Barbara, whose taste in music was exquisite. As king Philip had given Farinello the charge of selecting recreations and amusements suitable to his calm and gentle disposition, a variety of new institutions were set on foot through his means at court. Operas were only used to be performed on very solemn and extraordinary occasions; the nation at large was contented with comedies. They now began to grow more common; and Farinello, though he played no part in them, had the management of the whole. He possessed all the qualities that were requisite for the direction of an opera. For, with a perfect knowledge of music, he had great skill in painting, and made drawings with a pen. He was fruitful in inventions, particularly of such machines as represent thunder, lightning, rain, hail, and the like. The celebrated machinist Jacob Bonavera formed himself under his direction. In regard to the morality of the theatre he was very conscientious. Under his direction all went on at the king’s expence; and none but persons in the service of the royal family, the minister* from foreign potentates, the nobility, with the principal officers of state, and a few others, by particular favour, had admittance. In his country-house near Bologna are to be seen, among other paintings, those from whence Francis Battagliuoli copied the scenes in the operas Niteti, Didone, and Armida.

Besides the choice and arrangement of the royal amusements, Farinello was employed in various other matters that required a delicate taste. Queen Barbara having resolved on an institution for the education of young ladies, our singer was pitched upon not only to plan and direct the erection of the convent, and the proper retirade for the queen adjoining, but he gave orders for the making of the furniture suitable to the structure; and the church vessels, which he caused to be executed with incredible alacrity, at Naples, Bologna, and Milan. He himself made a donation to this establishment of a picture, by the hand of the celebrated Moriglio, of St. John de Dio, founder of the brethren of mercy, carrying a sick man on his back. He was likewise inspector of the music of the royal chapel; which he provided with the most noted spiritual compositions, by which the chapel of his holiness at Rome is distinguished above all others. | King Ferdinand had purposed all along to reward the ingenuity and attachment of Farinello by splendid promotions. He had already offered him several posts of honour, and at length pressed him to accent of a place in the royal council of finance. But, on his refusing them all, the king privately found means to get from Naples the attestations of his nobility, that he might honour him with the order of Calatrava. One day, holding up to him the cross of the order, he said to him, “Let us see then whether thou wilt persevere in refusing every thing that comes from our hand. 7 ’ Farinello fell on his knee before the king, and begged him graciously to withhold this honour, at least till he could have the proofs of the genuine nobility of his blood fie prove del sangue) transmitted him from home.I have already performed the part of a surgeon,“returned the king,” and have found that thy blood is good;" and then with his own hand fixed the cross upon his breast. He afterwards received the order with all due formality from the grand master, in the convent of the ladies of Comthury of Calatrava, among the archives whereof the originals of it are preserved.

The world were not a little surprised at the elevation of Farinello. But to those who looked narrowly into his moral character it was no wonder at all; and they rejoiced at it. He had nothing in. him of what are called the airs of a courtier. He enjoyed the favour of the monarch more in being serviceable to others, than in turning it to his own emolument. When right and equity spoke in behalf of any one, that person might be sure of his interest with the king; but, if the case was reversed, he was immoveable as a rock. One of the great men applied to him once for his recommendation to be appointed viceroy of Peru, and offered him a present of 400,000 piastres by way of inducement. Another sent him a_ casket filled with gold, desiring no other return than his friendship. He generously spurned at the proposals of both. General Montemar had brought with him from Italy a great number of musicians and other artists, who, on the disgrace of that officer, were all left destitute of bread. Farinello took them into his protection, and furnished them with the means of gaining a livelihood. Among them was Jacob Campana Bonavera, whom he placed as assistant to the machinist Pavia, and afterwards promoted him to the inspectorship of the royal theatre. Theresa Castellini of | Milan, the singer who had been called by queen Barbara to Madrid, and who at that time had a greater disposition than qualification for the art, he took under his instruction, and completed her for her employment In the dreadful distresses that ensued upon the earthquake at Lisbon, when the vocal performers and dancers implored his assistance, to the collection he made for them from the royal family and his friends, he added two thousand doubloons from his own private purse. Disposed as he was to be liberal in his bounty towards others, he found it no less difficult to ask for any thing that had reference to himself. It was not by his recommendation, but by his own deserts, that his brother Riccardo was promoted to the office of commissary at war for the marine department. This Riccardo died in 1756, in the flower of his age. He had been master of the band in the service of the duke of Wurtemberg; and a musical work printed at London is a proof of his force and skill in composition.

He was also grateful and generous towards every one that had shewn him any kindness*. Never was he heard to speak ill of any man; and when he was injured, he magnanimously overlooked it. There are even examples of his heaping favours on some that shewed themselves envious and malignant towards him. To a Spanish nobleman who murmured that the king testified so much munificence to a castrato, he made no other return than by procuring for his son a place he applied for in the army, and delivering to him himself the king’s order for his appointment. He was in general extremely circumspect not to distinguish himself by any thing by which he might excite the envy and jealousy of the nation against him. Hence it was, that he constantly declined accepting the comthury of the order of Calatrava, which the king had so

*

He frequently sent his former instructress, Porpora, considerable presents in money to London, Vienna, and Naples; but on no account would he have her near him, she was of so imprudent and loquacious a temper. On the death of Antonio Bernacchi, he had him buried with great funeral pomp. The misfortunes of Crudeli, the Florentine poet, who had addressed some verses to him, he took very much to heart; yet it is by no means probable that he had any share in the forcible deliverance of him from the dungeons of the inquisition; By his bounty he supported the family of the painter Amiconi, who died much too early for them that knew him; and that of the vocal musician Scarlatti, who had fallen into poverty by indulging 1 in play. Free from every spice of jealousy, he furnished the singers Egizieilo, Raf, Amadari, Garducci, Carlani, and others, with an opportunity of shewing their talents in the presence of the king, by whom they were richly rewarded.

| frequently offered him; beseeching him rather to bestow it on one of his deserving subjects. His generous way of thinking was not unnoticed by the Spaniards. Every one courted his friendship. The grandees of the kingdom, the foreign and domestic ministers, vouchsafed him their visits, and he was never wanting in due respect for their civilities. Towards persons of inferior stations he was always condescending and friendly .*
*

His taylor one day brought him home a new suit of very rich clothes. Farinello was in the act of paying him his bill, when he was suddenly stopped by the man’s telling him that he would much rather be would grant him another favour instead of it. “I come backwards and forwards so often, said he, to your excellency’s house; I have so frequently the honour to take your orders and try on your clothes; but I have never had the happiness to hear your heavenly strains, with the praise whereof the whole court resounds. I beseech you then not to take it amiss, if I ask” He had finished no more of his speech, when Farinello, with a friendly smile, interrupted him by taking a chair to the harpsichord, and beginning a song with the same energy and execution as when he sang before his majesty. This done, he ordered his secretary to pay him double the amount of his bill. By such methods he gained the love of all men, both of high and low degree.

To put away all suspicion of self-interested views, he made it a condition in the disbursements for the entertainments of the king and queen, that all accounts should pass through the hands of a treasurer appointed for that purpose, which were always with the utmost exactitude en-.­tered in a book. He was zealously devoted to the Roman catholic religion. He kept his domestic chaplain at London, as he had obtained a permission from Benedict XIV. to have a portable altar during his residence there, and to have mass celebrated at it in the chapel in his house. To this ecclesiastic he always gave precedence on all occasions. Indeed, while in England, he ate flesh on Fridays and Saturdays; but then he had a licence for it from Rome. Who would have thought that so brilliant a success would be brought to an end in the course of a very short period? King Ferdinand and queen Barbara were both of them in the flower of their age; both healthy and strong. Yet death carried them off in a short space, one after the other. The queen went first, and left Farinello her collection of music and her harpsichords, as a token of regard. The king, who loved her tenderly, fell into a deep dejection of spirits. To get away from the doleful sounds of the death-bells, he retired to the pleasure-house of villa Viciosa, where his excessive melancholy, after a space of fourteen days, laid him on the bed of sickness. Farinello was called to him the day after his departure | from Madrid, and never quitted him till he was no more. He died the 10th of August, 1759, of a rapid decline, in. the 46th year of his age, after a sickness of eleven months from the death of the queen.

The loss of such a friend, and the consequences of it, were extremely distressing to Farinello. The king had hardly closed his eyes, but the favourite’s apartments were as solitary as a desert. Friends and acquaintance, whom he had loaded with benefits, now turned their backs upon him, and a general revolution took place in his affairs. Two days after the king’s death he returned to Madrid, and there remained till the arrival of king Charles from Italy. He went as far as Saragossa to ineet him, to thank him for the assurance he had given him of continuing his appointment. The king received him very graciously, and confirmed the promise he had already made him the foregoing year, at the same time adding, that he was induced to this by his moderation and discretion, and that he was thoroughly convinced that he had never abused the king’s partiality for him. After a stay of three weeks at Saragossa, he bent his course towards Italy, without returning to Madrid, where he had commissioned a friend to send his baggage after him. In Italy his first care was to wait upon don Philippo duke of Parma, and the king of Naples, who gave him a very gracious reception. The joy which his old friends and patrons testified on his retarn to Naples is not to be described. After remaining here six months, he repaired to Naples by the way of Bologna, where he passed the rest of his days in tranquillity*.

In the year 1769, when the emperor Joseph II. was travelling through Bologna, though his stay was to be but short in that place, one of the first questions he asked was,

*

In the number of his most intimate friends was the celebrated father Martini, of the order of Minorites, whose equal in respect to taste in performances is not easily to be found. The learned world is indebted to Farinello for the appearance of his famous “History of Music.” Bernacchi, the common friend of both, was informed of his intention, and at the same time, of his irresolution, on account of the numberless difficulties he had to surmount in so great an nndertaking. He made Farinello acquainted with all the circumstances of the matter; who im­ mediately told him, that he might give father Martini to know, that queen Barbara had graciously condescended to vocal accept of his dedication of his “History of Music.” The good man, who had never once thought of hoping for nuch an encouragement, now determined not to disappoint the kind intentions of his friends wrote a letter of thanks to the queen, and applied himself to his History with unremitted diligence. He was the confessor, the counsellor, and the firmest friend of Farinello to the last moment of his life.

| where Farinello had taken up his abode? and on being told that he dwelt just without the city, he testified some displeasure; and added, that a man who possessed so great a force of genius, had never injured any one, but had done all the good that lay in his power to mankind, was worthy of every token of respect that could be paid him. But the emperor on his return stopped longer at Bologna, and Farinello had the honour of conversing with him often for a length of time, and quite alone.

In the very lap of ease, rest was a stranger to Farinello’s bosom. As some veteran mariner, long accustomed to great and perilous voyages, cannot endure the tediousness of abiding in harbour, so it was with Farinello' s active mind. He fell the effects of that melancholy to which he was disposed by nature, growing on him from day to day, and which was nourished and augmented by the continual sight of the portraits of his distant and for the most part deceased friends, with which his apartments were adorned. His voice continued clear and melodious to the last. He still sung frequently, and he alone perceived the depredations of time, while his friends who heard him observed no defect. During the three last weeks of his life, like what is fabled of the dying swan, he sung almost every day. He died the 16th of September, 1782, of a fever, in the 78th year of his age, without the least abatement of his intellectual powers throughout his illness. He left no wealth behind him; as ivhile he was in Spain he had always lived up to his annual income, and what remained over to him while in Italy, he shared among his relations and friends and the necessitous, during his life-time. His land, his pleasure-house at Bologna, and all the rest of his property, among which were several harpsichords of great value, and the music he had inherited from the queen, he left to his eldest sister, who was married to Giovanni Domenicq Pisani, a Neapolitan. His corpse was interred in the church of the Capuchins, which stands on a hill before Bologna. He was of a very large stature, strong built, of a fair complexion, and a lively aspect. His picture, which is to be seen among the portraits and works of the famous vocal artists collected by father Martini, in the library of the minorites at Bologna, is a perfect likeness. 1

1

Dr. Barney’s Travels, and Hist, of Music. -Hawkins’s Hist, of Music.

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