Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Michael Costa (conductor)
In 1825 he produced a cantata, L'Immagine, and in 1826 he wrote his first opera Il Delitto Punito. He followed this in 1827 with another opera Il sospetto funesto; to this period belong also his oratorio La Passione, a grand Mass for four voices, a Dixit Dominus , and three symphonies.
The opera Il Carcere d'Ildegonda was composed in 1827 for the Teatro Nuovo, and in 1829 Costa wrote his Malvina for Barbaja, the impresario of San Carlo. In this latter year he visited Birmingham to conduct Zingarelli's Cantata Sacra, a setting of some verses from Isaiah ch. xii. However, the festival committee would not allow him to conduct and instead he appeared (unsuccessfully) as a tenor soloist.
In 1830 he settled in London, having a connection with the King's Theatre. His ballet Kenilworth was written in 1831, the ballet Une Heure à Naples in 1832, and the ballet Sir Huon (composed for Taglioni) in 1833. In this latter year he wrote a once-famous vocal quartet, Ecco quel fiero istante. Malek Adhel, a revision of Malvina, was produced in Paris in 1837 and in London in 1844. In 1842 he wrote the ballet music of Alma for Cerito , and in 1844 his opera Don Carlos was produced in London.
Costa became a naturalized Englishman and received the honour of knighthood in 1869. He conducted the opera at Her Majesty's from 1832 till 1846, when he founded the Royal Italian Opera at Covent Garden; he was conductor of the Philharmonic Society from 1846 to 1854, of the Sacred Harmonic Society from 1848, and of the Birmingham Festival from 1849.
In 1855 Costa wrote the oratorio Eli, and in 1864 Naaman, both for Birmingham. Rossini's comment on the former was: "Ce bon Costa m'a envoyé une partition d'oratorio et un fromage de Stilton. Le fromage était très bon". Nonetheless it remained popular in England for many years. Meanwhile he had conducted at the Bradford (1853) and Handel festivals (1857-1880), and the Leeds Festivals from 1874 to 1880. On April 29 1884 he died in Hove.
Costa was a great conductor of his day, earning the admiration both of Meyerbeer and Verdi. He is notable in particular for imposing discipline on the somewhat haphazard conditions of English orchestras of the day. His musical sympathies, according to contemporary accounts, were however somewhat limited and his compositions have long since passed into oblivion.
- J. A. F. Maitland, "Costa, Sir Michael Andrew Angus (1808-1884)", rev. John Warrack, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/6375, accessed 1 March 2005
- Nigel Burton, Keith Horner: "Costa, Sir Michael", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 1 March 2005), http://www.grovemusic.com
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