The Kennedy Center

Ambrogio Lonati Carlo



Biography

Born in Milan in 1645, Carlo Lonati was an Italian composer, singer, impresario and teacher of voice and violin.  His cantatas are admired and rank with those of Scarlatti.  Although he was mainly known as a violinist and composer of instrumental music, he also made a significant contribution to opera, both as a comic performer and a composer.
 
Nothing is known of his family or childhood.  He is first mentioned in 1665-67 as a violinist at the royal chapel in Naples, where two years later he sang the role of Lesbo in Cavalli's "Scipione Africano."  By 1668 Lonati was in Rome where he took part in several Roman oratorio productions and church festivals.
 
From 1673 he led the string orchestra of the expatriate Queen Christina of Sweden, where he acquired the sobriquet "Il gobbo della regina" (the queen's hunchback), a reference that became quite well known. 
 
In 1677-78 he was both composer and impresario at the Teatro del Falcone in Genoa, where he was joined by Alessandro Stradella, a dissolute composer. Following Stradella's murder in 1682, Lonati was deported from Genoa and refused re-entry in 1683.  After deportation, it is believed that he was in Rome from 1682-83.  Between 1684-86 he served the Dukes of Mantua as a ‘virtuoso'. He composed "Ariberto e Flavio regi de Longobardi," two works for the court at Modena, the opera "I due Germani Revali" and the oratorio "L'innocenza di Davide."
 
Lonati spent his later years in Milan; in the 1680s and 90s he collaborated in several productions. A famous castrato, Pistocchi, refers to himself as a "pupil of the hunchback of violin," so Lonati probably taught singing as well as the violin. He may have had contact with Vienna, since, in 1701, he dedicated a volume of cantatas and a set of 12 violin sonatas to the Emperor Leopold I.
 
According to F.M. Veracini's Il trionfo della pratica musicale he spent some time in prison.  Lonati died in Milan between 1710-15.
 
Source: Grove Music Online
Ambrogio Carlo