Signor Pasquale Brignoli
28 July 1865
Volume 13, page 12, sitting number 16,584.
[Identified as ‘Signor P. Brignoli’ in the Silvy daybooks, this is the opera singer and pianist Pasquale Brignoli.]
Born in Naples either in 1820 or 1824, Pasquale Brignoli was the son of a glove maker. Details of his early life are hazy. Even his birthdate is disputed. Most sources claim he was born in 1824 but there is record for the baptism of a Pasquale Giuseppe Francesco Brignoli in Naples in 1820. He himself took a relaxed attitude to his age whenever he was required to state it; when the U.S. census was taken in 1860 he would only admit to 32.
He was certainly appearing in London by the late 1840s; the records of Alien Arrivals have him entering the UK for the first time on 17 July 1847, though English newspapers do not appear to have noticed him until 1849. Shortly afterwards he made his Paris debut, but though praised for his sweet tenor voice, his career did not really take off until he moved to the United States in 1855. His popularity in his adopted home lasted until almost until the end of his life.
Pasquale Brignoli died in New York City on 30 October 1884. According to one obituary: ‘There is only one tenor living, Tamberlik, who has filled as large a space in the record of Italian opera as Pasquale Brignoli. […] He sang with Parepa, Lagrange, Piccolomini, Kellogg, Albani, Nilsson, Di Murska, Van Zandt, and all the great prime donne of the last 30 years. He preferred America as a place of residence, though he was for many years leading tenor in London and Paris. He has been in the service of every impresario who has given Italian opera, from Ullman to Mapleson. He retained his youthful appearance until the last few years, and his voice was as sweet as ever, and his delivery as clear, though his force was impaired. He was last with the Abbott Company, but was not engaged during the current season. Brignoli was married about ten years ago to Miss Isabella McCullough, a prima donna, but the union was an unhappy one, and the couple soon afterwards were divorced’ (American Register, 15 November 1884).