Kelly, Michael


Irish tenor singer, composer and wine merchant, who appeared in the first performance of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, and was called by Sheridan " a composer of wines and importer of music." He was a native of Dublin, the son of a wine merchant and dancing-master. His first teachers were Passerini, Peretti, St. Giorgio and Rauzzini, and he first appeared on the stage at Dublin. In 1 79 he took up his studies again with Fenaroli and Aprile at Naples, and then went to Vienna, where he sang at the Court Theatre for four years, becoming a great friend of Mozart. He returned to England in 1787 and was at once engaged at Dairy Lane, where he held the position of first tenor until he retired from the stage. He also took part in the Handel concerts in Westminster Abbey. In 1789 he published his first two songs, False Appearances, and Fashionable Friends, and afterwards wrote and compiled the music for sixty-two dramas, and composed numerous other English, French and Italian songs, The Woodpecker being the only one that is well known at present. He was for a number of years acting manager of the King's Theatre, and in 1802 he started a music-shop and went into the wine business also. Neither of these enterprises prospered, and in 1811 he found himself penniless. He made his last public appearance in that year at his own benefit, where he sang The Bard of Erin, one of his own compositions. He died at Margate and was buried at St. Paul's, Covent Garden. His Reminiscences, published in 1826, are very interesting and contain many anecdotes of Mozart.