The popular bass singer Richard Leveridge was born about 1670 and apparently began his professional career in 1694-95. That season he sang in the St Cecilia’s Day celebration (John Blow’s “Te Deum and Jubilate”, according to the 5th edition of Grove) at Stationers’ Hall, presumably on 22 November 1694, and he was Ismeron in “The Indian Queen” at the Dorset Garden playhouse in the autumn of 1695. From then to 1751, when he was past 80, he busied himself singing songs between the acts and within plays, playing musical roles in plays and ‘operas’ (called semi-operas because actors acted and singers sang in many of them) and entertaining at concert venues in and around London. Dick, as he called himself, also composed songs, sometimes the music, sometimes the lyrics, and sometimes both, and from as early as 1714 to 1736 or later he kept a convivial coffee house in Tavistock Street.
Leveridge was a popular singer, but the musical antiquarian Hawkins felt that the singer ‘had no notion of elegance;’ – ‘it was all strength and compass.’ Dr Burney put it more gracefully: Leveridge’s appeal was to the lovers of Comus and Bacchus, not Minerva and Apollo. But he was applauded for a large number of singing roles and dozens of songs, one of the most popular being Henry Purcell’s mad song from D’Urfey’s “Don Quixote”, ‘Let the Dreadful Engines,’ originally composed for John Boman. Leveridge died on 22 March 1758 at the age of 88. (BDA) [EAL]