A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Bassi, Luigi

1502695A Dictionary of Music and Musicians — Bassi, LuigiMary Catherine Hamilton


BASSI, Luigi, born at Pesaro 1766, died at Dresden 1825. An eminent baritone singer, first appeared on the stage in women's parts at the age of thirteen; a pupil of Laschi at Florence. In 1784 he went to Prague, where he made a great reputation, especially in Paisiello's 'Re Teodoro,' and 'Barbiere di Siviglia,' and Martini's 'Cosa rara.' Mozart wrote the part of Don Juan for him.[1] He is said to have asked Mozart to write him another air in place of 'Fin c'han dal vino' in Don Juan, but Mozart replied 'Wait till the performance: if the air is not applauded, I will then write you another.' A hearty encore settled the question. He is also said to have induced Mozart to rewrite 'La ci darem' five times to suit him. But these stories are probably mere legends of Mozart's good humour. In 1806 Bassi left Prague in consequence of the war. For some years he was in the pay of Prince Lobkowitz, Beethoven's friend, appearing occasionally in public in Vienna; but in 1814 he returned to Prague, when Weber had the direction of the opera, and in 1815 was called to Dresden as a member of the Italian company there, but shortly afterwards became manager of the opera instead, and died there in 1825. Bassi was gifted with a fine voice, even throughout the register, a prepossessing appearance, and considerable dramatic ability. He is not to be confounded with Nicolo or Vincenzo Bassi.
  1. Bassi is usually said to have been also the orginal Almaviva in Figaro; but this is incorrect, Mandini was the first. See Jahn's 'Mozart' (2nd ed.) ii. 243.