Italian Opera Company

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The title "Italian Opera Company" is a generic term, one that refers to a specific category of opera company and occurs throughout much of the 19th and early 20th century writing on music, theatre and performance in South Africa, as elsewhere in the world.

The concept

It usually referred to theatrical companies that offered full or partial versions of the then popular Italian operas, although many on occasion would also spread their wings to encompass other forms of musical performance as well, from comic opera to more classical theatrical works.

The names of the manager, or one or more of the leading artists, was usually appended to the title in the formal publicity to distinguish the particular company from any competing companies (e.g. in the format "Mr X's Italian Opera Company"). On the other hand, a number of reviewers and journalists, when writing about a particular person or performance, would simply use a less specific formulation, e.g. as "Mr X, of the Italian Opera Company".

Some prominent Italian Opera Companies that worked in, or visited, South Africa

The Cagli Italian Opera Company (1875-6)

The Ancarina Massimimi Italian Opera Company (or The Massimimi Italian Opera Company, 1894-5)

The "Italian Opera Company", headed by Miss Cappelaro and Mr Deneri (1903)


F.C.L. Bosman, 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 300, 304, 320, 343-4, 349, 352, 401, 417.

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