Richard Leveridge (1670-1758)

Born in London, Leveridge became a theatre singer in 1695, in time to collaborate with Henry Purcell on The Indian Queen, in which he sang the imposing song ‘Ye twice ten hundred deities’. Two years later he collaborated with Daniel Purcell and Jeremiah Clarke to compose The Island Princess, which continued to be revived until 1739. Also in 1697 he published the first of his various songbooks: altogether he composed some 150 songs, the last of them published in 1753 in his retirement; he also wrote English words to a number of tunes and arias by Geminiani, Handel (see No. 9) and others. In 1702 Leveridge wrote some effective music for Macbeth, which continued to be revived well into the 19th century, albeit misattributed to Matthew Locke. In the ensuing years he started to sing roles — usually comic — in Italian-style operas; in 1712 he sang a season for Handel’s company. Two years later he moved to Lincoln’s Inn Theatre, and when they met financial troubles he ran a coffee-house in Covent Garden for some years. In 1723 he returned to the stage as the principal bass at Lincoln’s Inn and then also Covent Garden theatre, often singing dramatic roles such as magicians and conjurors, as well as in pantomime-like afterpieces.

Twenty-one Songs