Gaetano Crivelli

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Portrait of Crivelli in Roman costume by John Partridge c. 1825

Gaetano Crivelli (1768–1836) was a famous Italian tenor.

Although he was born not actually in Bergamo but in neighbouring Brescia, Crivelli can be regarded as one of the founders of that remarkable Bergamo tenor school which, beginning with Giacomo David and proceeding through such singers as Giovanni David, Andrea Nozzari, Domenico Donzelli and Marco Bordogni, culminated in the great Giovanni Battista Rubini.[1]

Crivelli, a baritonal tenor in the eighteenth century’s Italian manner, made his first public appearance rather late, aged 28, in his native town. He sang in several other Italian theatres before his début at Milan’s La Scala in 1805, in the premiere of Mayr's opera Eraldo ed Emma. He appeared in the Italian premiere of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito at Naples's Teatro di San Carlo, in 1809. Crivelli then moved to Paris, where, at the Théâtre des Italiens in 1811, he performed what was probably his best-suited opera, Pirro by Paisiello: he afterwards performed it with lesser success in London. Despite this lack of success he gave England an important legacy in the form of his son Domenico, who settled permanently there, first as a singer and later as a singing teacher, a prominent figure in English musical life of that period.

Having returned to Italy, Gaetano pursued his career for several years mainly in the northern theatres, as for example at La Scala, where he sang in La clemenza di Tito at its 1818 revival,[2] or at Venice’s La Fenice, where he played opposite Giuditta Pasta in the first performance of Giuseppe Nicolini’s La conquista di Granata; in 1821, opposite the prima-donna Francesca Maffei Festa, in the première of Saverio Mercadante’s opera Andronico; and in 1824 in the first performance of Meyerbeer's Il crociato in Egitto, the last major opera with a role for a castrato (played then by Giovanni Battista Velluti).

In his long career Crivelli distinguished himself principally for his capability to exploit to the full his bari-tenor qualities of quivering and passionate accent and expressive vigour, rather than for any florid virtuosity.[3] Thus he made a remarkable contribution to the first 19th century belcanto revival which was about to inspire the golden age of singing for which Rossini composed. He was not, however, a leading figure within that revival, perhaps because he lacked an acrobatic virtuoso technique. He died in Brescia.



  1. ^ Caruselli, II, article: David, Giacomo, p. 334.
  2. ^ After this it had to wait a further 133 years for another performance. cf. Giorgio Guarlerzi, 'Tito era un clemente, ma in Italia pochi lo sanno,' in Silvia Camerini (ed), La clemenza di Tito, Programme of the Teatro Municipale Valli Reggio Emilia Bologna, Nuova alfa editoriale (1988), pp. 146-47
  3. ^ Caruselli, I, article: Crivelli, Gaetano, p. 313.


  • Caruselli, Salvatore (ed.), Grande enciclopedia della musica lirica, Longanesi &C. Periodici S.p.A., Roma, ad nomen
  • This article is a substantial translation from Gaetano Crivelli in the Italian Wikipedia