Carestini, Giovanni


A male soprano, whose voice was at first a powerful and clear soprano, and afterwards changed to the fullest, deepest contralto that has perhaps ever been heard. He became one of the most renowned of Italian singers. Carestini was born at Monte Filatrano, near Ancona, Italy, and when twelve years of age he went to Milan, where he was taken under the protection of the Cusani family. He made his debut as a singer when sixteen in Bononcini's Griselda, taking the female character in it, and assuming the stage name Cusanino, from the family of his protectors. Two years later he appeared at Prague at the coronation of Charles VI. as King of Bohemia, taking part in the great musical congress in that city. He returned to Italy and next sang at Mantua and for many years appeared successfully in various Italian cities, in rivalry with Farinelli. He was next engaged by Handel to sing in place of Senesinp, who had deserted Handel to enlist with Porpora. Carestini sang in Berlin, St. Petersburg and in other cities on the continent, being received with great applause everywhere. He became also a great favorite in London. He earned the friendship and esteem of Handel, although it is related of him that he once very much displeased the composer by sending back to him a song which he considered unfit for his voice, and which called forth upon his head the severest anathemas in the composer's best broken English. Carestini was tall, of excellent physique and decidedly handsome.