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  • Writer's pictureTim Braithwaite

Florido Tomeoni on the Dangers of the French Way of Singing (1799)

‘… The unearthly efforts required by the French method wear out their [the singers’] voices even before they can appear on stage, and the continual noise of the orchestra obliges them to sing so loudly and so high that often, after a few years, the organs of their voice are perceptibly altered, and they thus expose themselves to serious accidents, such as the fracture of the vessels of the chest. This is one of the reasons why good singers so rare in this country…’

‘… les efforts surnaturels qu’exige la méthode française, usent leur voix avant même qu’ils puissent paraitre sur le théâtre, et le bruit continuel de l’orchestre les oblige à chanter si fort et si haut, que souvent en peu d’années les organes de leur voix s’altèrent sensiblement, et qu’ils s’exposent ainsi à des accidens graves, tels que la fracture des vaisseaux de la poitrine. C’est une des causes qui rendent les bons chanteurs si rares en ce pays…’



Florido Tomeoni, Théorie de la musique vocale (Paris, c.1799). My translation.

The image below is Louis Jean Desprez’ ‘The Tomb of Agamemnon’ created in c.1787.

Desprez was appointed by King Gustav III of Sweden in 1784 as the head stage designer for the Royal Opera in Stockholm. This drawing relates to the sets Desprez made for the Swedish opera Electra, which premiered at Drottningholm Castle on July 22, 1787. The scene of Agamemnon’s interment is in the prologue, which opens with Electra and Orestes plotting to avenge their father’s murder.Desprez’s rendering is cloaked in gloom, with torches and censers dramatically lighting the architecture from below.

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