Opera Singer. The most renowned mezzo-soprano of the 18th Century, she was acclaimed throughout Europe for the delicacy and intelligence of her singing, as well as for her great beauty. To her many fans she was known simply as "Faustina". Born into a noble family in Venice, Bordoni studied music with the Marcello brothers and Michaelangelo Gasparini, and made her debut in "Ariodante" (1716). Leaving her native city for an extended tour in 1720, she took Italy, Germany, and Austria by storm, where she was hailed as "The New Siren". Among the many written tributes to her gifts, eminent critic Charles Burney enthused, "She invented a new type of singing with running divisions of a neatness and velocity which astonish all who hear her", and composer Johann Joachim Quantz concluded, "She was born for singing and acting". She regularly performed to sold-out houses and engraved portraits of her were bought by the thousands. In 1726 composer-impresario George Frideric Handel offered Bordoni an astronomical salary to sing for his Royal Academy of Music in London, and she created the lead mezzo roles in his operas "Alessandro" (1726), "Admeto" (1727), "Riccardo Primo" (1727), "Siroe" (1728), and "Tolomeo" (1728). Her success infuriated the company's reigning prima donna, soprano Francesca Cuzzoni, and their rivalry climaxed in a disastrous 1727 performance at the Haymarket Theatre. Egged on by the hissing and booing of their opposing cliques in the audience, the two divas got into a catfight onstage and the evening ended in an all-out riot. British author John Gay spoofed this incident as the "Jealousy Duet" between Polly and Lucy in "The Beggar's Opera" (1728). After the Royal Academy of Music folded in 1728, Bordoni never returned to England. In 1730 she married German composer Johann Adolph Hasse, who would write 15 operas for her, and for three decades they were employed at the Saxon court at Dresden. Bordoni also continued to tour until 1751. The couple spent their last years in Venice, in prosperous and happy retirement. The arias Handel composed for Bordoni (notably "La mia costanza" from "Siroe") are still sung by present-day mezzo-sopranos.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards