2nd February 1762
24th April 1846
Girolamo Crescentini was a noted Italian singer castrato (sopranista), a singing teacher and a composer.
He studied in Bologna with the noted teacher Lorenzo Gibelli and made his debut in 1783, quite advanced in years as a castrato. After an unlucky stay in London in 1785, where he did not win much approbation, on his getting back to Italy, he took part in Naples, very successfully, to a revival of Guglielmi’s opera Enea e Lavinia, together with the already famous tenor Giacomo Davide, who shared Crescentini’s artistic inclinations. Thenceforwards, his career made more and more headway, reaching the apex in the nineties, and specially in 1796, when he created two roles which would remain in repertoire for some decades and then famous until present times, in either case by his quasi-pupil Giuseppina Grassini’s side. For him, indeed, Nicola Zingarelli wrote the part of Romeo in his opera Giulietta e Romeo, staged at Milan’s La Scala on 30 January, while Domenico Cimarosa composed the role of Curiazio in Gli Orazi e i Curiazi, staged instead in northern Italy’s second greater theatre, Venice’s La Fenice, on 26 December. For Zingarelli’s opera, Crescentini composed himself an aria, “Ombra adorata aspetta”, which would remain famous as “la Preghiera di Romeo” (Romeo’s Prayer), and which was a greatest enduring success for the singer and a permanent painful grievance for the composer, who referred to it as “my opera’s misfortune” because of its lack of “common sense”