Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DE BEGNIS, Giuseppe, operasinger, born in Lugo, Italy, in 1795; died in New York City in August 1849. He began his musical studies at the age of seven years, and sang soprano till he was nearly fifteen, when his voice broke. He then studied for a comedian, and later resumed lessons as a baritone vocalist. He made his first appearance as an operatic buffo singer at Modena, in 1813, with sufficient success to decide his continuance as a performer on the lyric stage. In 1816 he married the noted prima-donna and famous beauty, Signorina Ronzi. They sang throughout Italy with great success, mid in 1819 made their first appearance at the Italian opera in Paris, remaining three seasons. In 1821 they performed in London, and thereafter in the various capital cities of Europe, in concerts and operas. About 1845 De Begnis came to the United States, appearing frequently in New York City in concerts and operas with only moderate success. His voice had lost its freshness, and his style seemed antiquated. He was still notable as one of the purest and most natural of Italian buffo singers; but that kind of vocalist was not appreciated in this country. In the old Rossinian comic operas the flexibility of his voice arid his rapid pronunciation were altogether remarkable. His countenance was severely marked by smallpox; but in his makeup for performance he gave no evidence of facial disfigurement. Disappointed in his reception by the American public, he longed to return to the scenes of his early success ; but the horrors of seasickness and hazards of the voyage prevented. He died of cholera, not without means, but neglected and almost forgotten.
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