"Angelica Catalani" by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

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Angelica Catalani (1806)

Angelica Catalini, as you may have guessed from the painting, was a famous singer in the Regency Era. She performed in major theaters across Europe, including the historic Theatre of the Estates (Stavovské divadlo). One aria Madame Catalini was associated with is from "La Morte di Semiramide" by the Portuguese composer Portogallo. In fact, Madame Catalini's first English appearance (December 13, 1806 at the King's Theatre in London was in the role of Semiramide [For further discussion see "Opera," The Theatre Museum: Victoria and Albert Museum London: Scala Publications, 1987, p.44.] Here she is depicted in what is a simple white gown, with minimal jewlery. This effect is probably deliberate to "purify" Catalini of the typical associations of prostitution and vulgarity with public performers. A cap modelled on the costume of Semiramide worn by Catalini is depicted in the April 1807 issue of Le Beau Monde.

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