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Billington, Elizabeth

BILLINGTON, ELIZABETH (1768?-1818), British opera-singer, was born in London, her father being a German musician named Weichsel, and her mother a popular vocalist. She was trained in music, and at fourteen sang at a concert in Oxford. In 1783 she married James Billington, a double-bass player. She had a voice of unusual compass, and as Rosetta in Love in a Village she had a great success at Covent Garden in 1786, being engaged for the season at a salary of £1000, a large sum for those days. Her position as a singer in London was now assured. In 1794 she and her husband went to Italy, and Mrs Billington appeared at Naples (where she was the heroine of a new opera, Inez di Castro, written for her by F. Bianchi), at Florence, at Venice and at Milan. Her husband died suddenly during the tour, and in 1799 she married a Frenchman named Felissent, whom, however, she left in 1801. Returning to England she appeared alternately at Covent Garden and Drury Lane, her professional income during 1801 amounting to between £10,000 and £15,000. Henceforward she sang in Italian opera till the end of 1810, when ill-health forced her to abandon her profession. In 1817 she was reconciled to her husband, and went with him to live near Venice, where she died on the 25th of August 1818.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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