Righini, Vincenzo



Italian dramatic composer and con- ductor; born at Bologna; was a choirboy in the cathedral there; studied singing under Bernacchi, and counterpoint under Padre Martini. He made his debut as a tenor singer at Parma in 1775, and the next year was engaged in Prague as an actor and singer in comic opera. Here he remained for about three years, also producing three operas of his own, La Vedova scaltra, La bottega del Caffe, and Don Giovanni. In 1780 he settled in Vienna as director of the Italian light opera, and was chosen by Joseph II. as singing-teacher to Princess Elizabeth. In 1788 he received a call from the Elector at Mayence to act as his chapelmaster, and in 1793 was appointed conductor to the Court Opera at Berlin, where his grand opera, Enea nel Lazio, written for the Royal Theatre at the bidding of Emperor Frederick William II., had met with success. In 1794 he married a well-known singer, Henriette Kneisel (1767-1801), who is said to have possessed much beauty of person and of voice. In 1806 the opera was discontinued. He died in his native place in 1812. He composed about twenty operas altogether, including besides those mentioned above, II trionfo d'Arianna; Armida; Tigrane; Gerusalemme liberati; and La Selva incantata. His Don Giovanni antedated Mozart's by ten years. He also published a ballet, Minerva die Statuen des Daedalus; a mass, a Te Deum, a requiem, and other church music; cantatas, songs, duets, and instrumental music. Of his orchestral compositions, the only one of any note is the overture to Tigrane. Righini was also an excellent teacher of singing, and in the early part of the Nineteenth Century published a set of vocal exercises that have been ranked among the best of their kind.