Ann Selina Storace

Anna Selina Storace was born on 27 October, 1765 in London to Stefano and Elizabeth Storace. Her father was an Italian double bass player who was, in his heart, a complete Anglophile. Her older brother Stephen Storace also excelled in music, and studied in Naples at the Conservatorio San Onofrio. She was the most important English soprano of second half of the 18th Century. With her brother Stephen, who became quite a popular composer in his own right, Anna (called alternatively with the name of Nancy), excelled in popular English operettas and operas, most of which her brother composed for her.

Recognizing Anna's talent for singing, she was sent to study with Venancio Rauzzini in London. She traveled to Naples with her parents to visit her brother in 1780 and her career as an opera diva began. She performed her debut at the Teatro allo Pergola in Florence, where she was an instant success. Her style was quite flamboyant and she delighted audiences with her fine voice, charming looks and spirited acting.

In 1782-83 she performed at Lucca, Leghorn, Parma, Milan and at the Teatro San Samuele in Venice, where Count Giacomo Durazzo, who was the co-director with Count Franz Esterhazy of the Burgtheater and of Kärntnertor Theater in Vienna, saw her. He recommended her to the Burgtheater, where she was to become one of the stars of the newly formed Italian company. 

Because of her spirited acting, she found her greatest success in comic, or buffa, parts. While performing in Vienna, she caught the attention of the young composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He wrote the part of Susanna in his new opera Le Nozze de Figaro for Anna. She was, according to Alfred Einstein, "beautiful, attractive, an artist and a finished singer".

Chi'io mi scordi de te, K. 505, arguably the greatest concert aria ever composed, was also written for Anna Storace in 1786. Of monumental proportions, this work has the added delight of being a solo aria and a duet (obbligato piano part), and it provides a unique link between Mozart's great piano concertos and his operas. The piece was performed for Anna's farewell concert, given on February 23, 1787 at the Kärntnertor Theater. Mozart designed the piano obbligato for himself and played it at her farewell concert in the Kärntnerthor theater.

During her stay in Vienna, she gathered a remarkable circle of friends and admirers, among them such personalities as Antonio Salieri, Michael Kelly (the actor playing "Figaro" opposite her on stage) and even Emperor Joseph II. Being a "relentless tease and incurable flirt," she had many love affairs, and it was rumoured that she was involved with Mozart and was the Emperor's mistress.

During her stay in Vienna she married John Abraham Fisher, a celebrated violinist; but he used her very cruelly. The relationship proved to be so unsuccessful that the Emperor had Fisher banned from the Empire on account of his abusive actions towards the famous singer.  She refused to bear Fisher's name, and in her will-bequeathing property to the amount of £5o,ooo- styled herself "spinster."

She left Vienna in February of 1787, in company with Michael Kelly, Thomas Attwood, Lord Barnard (later the Earl of Darlington), her older brother and her mother. There were hopes that when they returned to London they might obtain a commission for Mozart to compose an opera for the London stage, but it never panned out. She remained in London for the rest of her life where she successfully continued her career at the Kings Theater, Drury Lane, and Covent Garden. After contributing greatly to the success of her brother's later operas, she crowned a long and brilliant career by winning great laurels at the Handel Commemoration at Westminster Abbey in 1791. She retired from the stage in 1808, and died on August 24, 1817, in the company of her dear friend, Michael Kelly.

Lots of information and graphics graciously provided by The Anna Storace Site

Many thanks to K. Lynette Waller and Alla Breve, Inc.