Now to the Drama turn - Oh! motley sight!


Harvard Theatre Collection - TCS 44


Harvard Theatre Collection - TCS 45

Well may the nobles of our present race
Watch each distortion of a NALDI’S face;
Well may they smile on Italy’s buffoons,
And worship CATALANI’S pantaloons.

Guiseppe Naldi (1770-1820). Engraved portrait of Naldi (1809).
Angelica Catalani (ca. 1785-1849). Engraved portrait of Catalani in Semiramide (1806).

In the early nineteenth century, Italian opera was a popular entertainment, and native performers enjoyed celebrity status with the English nobility and gentry. In a note to these lines, Byron adds: “NALDI and CATALANI require little notice, for the visage of one, and the salary of the other, will enable us long to recollect these amusing vagabonds; besides, we are still black and blue from the squeeze on the first night of the Lady’s appearance in trowsers.”