Grassini, Josephina


Distinguished Italian contralto; born at Varese; studied with the best teachers in Milan, and in 1794 made her debut in that city, after which she was quickly recognized as the best singer of that time in Italy. When she had appeared on the principal Italian stages, inciting the greatest applause, she was invited by Napoleon, then chief consul of France, to sing at the National Festival in Paris in 1800, after which she also appeared in opera in that city. The next year she went to London, where she succeeded Banti, and was paid, according to report, three thousand pounds for the season. In a short time she had conquered the London public by her exceptional gifts as an actress and the unusual power and beauty of her voice, and said to have been the first female contralto heard in Italian opera. Though its range was necessarily limited, her artistic execution was superior to that of most contraltos.