Though Elizabeth Billington was thought to have one of the greatest voices of the age,the caricaturists loved to poke fun at her.
Mrs. Billington 1765-1818 was the daughter of Carl Weichsell, a well-known oboist, and a popular singer. In childhood she studied singing and composition with J.C. Bach, and by age 12 she had produced two keyboard concertos. In 1783, she wed James Billington, singing teacher and player of the double bass. For many years she and her brother, a violinist, provided afterpiece concerts at Covent Garden, where she became renowned for her exceptionally high vocal range and accurate intonation.
In 1802 she made her opera debut at the Italian opera house. “The recitative was raised from its customary level.”
In 1805, according to the Times, “(she) sung with all the taste and delicacy, expression and neatness of execution that have long placed her above the reach of competition.” Her last performance at the King’s was the following year. She returned to the concert stage and to English Opera, performing alternately at Drury Lane and Covent Garden,
till her retirement in 1817.
Regency Promenade is written every month by Nancy Mayer, Regency researcher extraordinaire. http://www.regencyresearcher.com/