Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83

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Foppa, Giuseppe Maria

(b Venice, 12 Aug 1760; d Venice, 1845). Italian librettist. He was educated partly at a Jesuit college and became an archivist; later he held several government posts. Foppa was a prolific author: he wrote novels, poetry and plays, and translated many French dramatic works into Italian. Foppa’s father was an amateur violinist, and music-making was important in the household (Galuppi was a close friend). Foppa studied singing with Girolamo Fortuni and harmony with Francesco Bianchi and Carlo Faggi, organist at S Marco. He was on familiar terms with Ferdinando Bertoni and other Venetian composers. During the 1790s he participated in Venetian musical life, particularly around the four ospedali. For the Mendicanti he wrote the texts for several oratorios and cantatas, many of which were set by Mayr.

Foppa’s first opera libretto was Alonso e Cora, produced during Carnival 1786. By the end of his career in 1819 he had written over 100 librettos which were set by many of the most important composers of the day, among them Andreozzi, Bianchi, Coccia, Fioravanti, Gardi, Generali, Nasolini, Paer, Portugal, Spontini and Zingarelli. He carried on long and important collaborations with Mayr (12 operas, 1796–1810), Farinelli (14 operas, 1800–17) and Pavesi (11 operas, 1803–19). For Rossini he wrote L’inganno felice (1812), La scala di seta (1812), Il signor Bruschino (1813) and Sigismondo (1814).

The librettos are mostly comic. Many are one-act farse (farse giocose), a genre popular in Venice from the early 1790s to about 1815. He also wrote full-length comic operas, drammi giocosi or eroicomici. Many of the works he called commedie combine spoken dialogue with musical numbers and reflect the influence of opéra comique. His one tragicommedia (Ginevra degli Almieri) and one operetta di sentimento (La madre virtuosa) demonstrate the influence of the French larmoyante genre. Foppa drew his comic material from the commedia dell’arte, the French and Neapolitan theatres and Goldoni.

Foppa’s serious works are mainly drammi per musica. He preferred French sources, for example Marmontel (Alonso e Cora and Lauso e Lidia), Beaumarchais (Eugenia) and Corneille (Euristea), but also drew from mythology and ancient history as well as adapting some of his own spoken dramas (Don Gusmano). He also wrote a handful of dramas that mixed spoken dialogue with music, of which Dorval e Virginia (1793) is a celebrated example. Based on an episode from the French novel Paul et Virginie by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Foppa’s libretto captured the ideological spirit of the age with its emphasis on the purity and innocence of youth, the wholesomeness of rustic life and the nobility of self-sacrifice.

In his Memorie storiche, published in Venice in 1840 (an appendix followed in 1842), Foppa reaffirmed the classic function of the theatre to educate, and warned against theatrical representations that undermined the morality and good habits of the public. While his admonitions may seem anachronistic against the backdrop of Italian Romanticism, his contributions to the operatic stage remain a testament to the philosophical idealism of a past era.


GroveO (R. Shaheen) [incl. list of librettos]

E. Masi: Sulla storia del teatro italiano nel secolo XVIII (Florence, 1891)

L. Miragoli: Il melodramma italiano nell’Ottocento (Rome, 1924)

G. Radiciotti: Gioacchino Rossini, i (Tivoli, 1927)

R. Angermüller: ‘Grundzüge des nachmetastasianischen Librettos’, AnMc, no.21 (1982), 192–235

D. Goldin: ‘Aspetti della librettistica italiana fra 1770 e 1830’, AnMc, no.21 (1982), 128–91; repr. in La vera fenice (Turin, 1985), 3–72

M. Conati: Introduction to G. Andreozzi: Amleto, DMV, xxvi (Milan, 1984)

M. McClymonds: ‘The Venetian Role in the Transformation of Italian Opera Seria during the 1790s’, I vicini di Mozart: Venice 1987, 221–40

S. Kunze: ‘Su alcune farse di Giuseppe Foppa musicate da Francesco Gardi’, ibid., 479–88

M. McClymonds: ‘La morte di Semiramide ossia La vendetta di Nino and the Restoration of Death and Tragedy to the Italian Operatic Stage in the 1780s and 90s’, IMSCR XIV: Bologna 1987, iii, 285–92

A. De Bei: ‘Giulietta e Romeo di Nicola Zingarelli: fortuna ed eredità di un soggetto shakespeariano’, Aspetti dell’opera italiana fra Sette e Ottocento: Mayr e Zingarelli, ed. G. Salvetti (Lucca, 1993), 71–125


Forberg, August Robert

(b Lützen, nr Leipzig, 18 May 1833; d Leipzig, 10 Oct 1880). German music publisher. He opened a book and music shop in Leipzig in 1862. The company achieved international fame principally through the commission work undertaken by C.F.W. Siegel; Forberg’s major activity was as a commissioning agent for well-known foreign music publishers. The founder’s son Robert Max Forberg (1860–1920) became a partner in 1885 and the sole proprietor after 1888. In 1908 the company’s catalogue carried over 6000 titles, which covered a wide range of musical taste. Both Forbergs contributed to the spread of Tchaikovsky’s works in Germany; as the assign of the Jürgenson publishing firm, Robert Forberg’s company helped the dissemination of many works by well-known Russian composers. Other composers promoted by the firm include Kienzl, Smetana, Richard Strauss, d’Albert, Hausegger and Reger. After suffering severe war damage in 1943, the firm moved to Bonn (1949) and to Bad Godesberg in 1951.


Forbes, Elliot

(b Cambridge, MA, 30 Aug 1917). American musicologist and choral conductor. He studied with Archibald T. Davison, A. Tillman Merritt and Walter Piston at Harvard University, where he received the BA in 1941 and the MA in 1947. He taught at Princeton from 1947 until 1958, when he was appointed Fanny Peabody Professor of Music at Harvard. There he devoted his attention to undergraduate education and until 1970 conducted the Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society, a major university choral group. He has been professor emeritus since 1984. His historical writings are mainly concerned with choral music, especially that of Beethoven, and with Beethoven biography. His revised edition of Thayer's Life of Beethoven is a substantial contribution to Beethoven scholarship in English. Since 1959 Forbes has been general editor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Choral Music Series.


‘The Music of Randall Thompson’, MQ, xxxv (1949), 1–25

‘A Neglected Work in Beethoven's Choral Music: the Funeral Cantata’, Essays on Music in Honor of Archibald Thompson Davison (Cambridge, MA, 1957), 253–61

ed.: Thayer's Life of Beethoven (Princeton, NJ, 1964, 2/1967)

‘Stürzet nieder, Millionen’, Studies in Music History: Essays for Oliver Strunk, ed. H. Powers (Princeton, NJ, 1968), 449–57

‘The Choral Music of Beethoven’, American Choral Review, xi/3 (1968–9) [whole issue]

‘Beethoven as a Choral Composer’, PRMA, xcvii (1970–71), 69–82

Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt: an Example of a Goethe Lyric Set to Music’, Words and Music: the Scholar's View … in Honor of A. Tillman Merritt, ed. L. Berman (Cambridge, MA, 1972), 59–82

‘Beethoven's Choral Music: a Reappraisal’, American Choral Review, xxiv/2–3 (1982), 67–82

A History of Music at Harvard (Cambridge, MA, 1988–93)


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