Nicolino, Grimaldi

, commonly known by the name of Nicolini, a great singer, and still greater actor, arrived in England in 1708, which, says Dr. Burney, forms an era in the annals of our lyric theatre; as he was the first vocal performer of the highest class from Italy that trod our stage, and promoted a taste both for fine singing and fine acting. He was a native of Naples; his voice was at first a soprano, but afterwards descended into a full and rich contralto. The first operas in which we have met with his name in Italy were “Tullo Ostilio,” and “Xerse,” two dramas composed by John Bononcini for Home, in 1694. In 1697 and 1698 we find him the principal singer in the Neapolitan operas; and in 1699 and 1700 again at Rome. From this period till his arrival in England, he sung at Venice, Milan, and other cities of Italy, where the musical drama was established. When he arrived in England, where geniuses of this description are always more fondly caressed than any where else, the opera prices were raised to 15s. for the boxes on the stage, half a guinea the pit and other boxes, and first gallery five shillings. Nicolini indeed appeared a phenomenon worthy of occupying the attention of the whole nation; not only sir Richard Steele celebrated the majesty of his appearance on the stage in the “Tatler;” but Mr. Addison, who on other occasions so justly ridiculed the absurdities of the Italian opera, celebrated the abilities of Nicolini as an actor in the Spectator, No. 13. In 1712 he went abroad, but returned to England, and in the year 1715 we find him performing in Handel’s opera of “Rinaldo,” and receiving his accustomed applause. According to the ideas which tradition gives us of the abilities of this performer, his part in “Rinaldo” must have drawn out all his powers both as a singer and actor. He continued here till 1717, when he returned to Italy for the last time; but continued in favour there as aa actor, after his vocal powers were faded, and a new style | of singing was established for in 1723 we still find him at Rome with the Tesi, in Leo’s “Timocrate.1

1

By Dr. Burney in Rees’s Cyclopædia.—Tatler and Spectator; see Indexes.