Opera Scotland

Stephen Storace Suggest updates

Born London, 4 January 1763.

Died London, 19 March 1796.

English composer.

Stephen Storace was, in his day, a highly-regarded composer, largely of comic operas. His work has not generally survived in the repertory, probably because much of the music was lost in a fire that destroyed the Drury Lane theatre a few years after his death.

His father was an Italian musician who settled in London, earning his living as a double bass player. Together with his younger sister Ann, generally known as Nancy (1766-1817), and their friend, the Irish tenor Michael Kelly (1762-1826), Stephen trained in Italy before settling for a period in Vienna, where the trio befriended Mozart. Nancy was an accomplished singing actress, especially in comedy, and in 1786 she created the role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. Kelly, also a composer, was an excellent character tenor. He also appeared in that première, doubling as both Don Basilio and Don Curzio, and eventually published some entertaining memoirs recording the event. Meanwhile, Stephen's own compositions acquired a distinctly Mozartian flavour.

The most successful opera composed by Storace in Vienna was Gli equivoci (1786), with a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte derived from Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, with Kelly as Antipholus of Ephesus. It has enjoyed a few successful revivals in recent years, including the Camden and Wexford festivals. On their return to Britain Storace produced several more works, sometimes incorporating music by other hands as well as recycling his own earlier compositions. No Song, No Supper, a short afterpiece, intended for performance following the main work of the evening, remained popular through most of the nineteenth century.

Operas performed in Scotland are shown in bold:-

Gli sposi malcontenti (Vienna 1785) (da Ponte)

Gli equivoci (Vienna 1786) (da Ponte)

The Haunted Tower (London 1789) (Cobb)

No Song, No Supper (London 1790) (Hoare)

The Siege of Belgrade (London 1791) (Cobb)

The Pirates (London 1792) (Cobb)

The Cherokee (London 1794) (Cobb)

Mahmoud (London 1796) (Hoare)

Roles in Scotland

No Song, No Supper

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