Portogallo, Marcus Antonio



A Portuguese operatic composer, whose real name was Marcus Antonio da Foseca. Born at Lisbon; he was educated at a seminary, where the priests gave him his first lessons in music. Borselli, the opera singer, was his vocal teacher, and he studied composition under the chapelmaster at the Cathedral. In 1782 Borselli obtained for him a post as accompanist in the Opera at Madrid, but in 1787 he was sent to Italy to study by the Portuguese ambassador. His operas were L'Eroe cinese; La Bacchetta portentosa; II Molinaro; L'Astuto, ossia La Vedova raggiratrice. In 1790, on returning to Lisbon, he was created chapelmaster to the court. The next nine years he spent in Italy, where he produced about twenty-five operas. Fernando in Messico, written for Mrs. Billington and played at Rome in 1798 is considered by some his masterpiece. From 1799 to 1810 he wielded the baton at the San Carlos Theatre in Lisbon, where for some time Catalini sang; then, following the Royal family to Brazil, he was appointed general director of music in 1811. In 1813 the Royal Theatre was opened at Rio de Janeiro, and the same year he and his brother, Simao, a church composer, were placed in charge of the new Conservatory at Vera Cruz. Two years later he made a last visit to Italy, bringing out Adriano in Siria at Milan. He then returned to Brazil and spent the rest of his life at Rio de Janeiro. Some thirteen of his forty operas are now extant. He also wrote pieces for special occasions; farces and burlettas for Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro; masses, five with orchestra and five with organ, etc.; two Te Deums, with orchestra; psalms, with orchestra; and other church-music.