Eureka! | Image of Antonio Franchini, 19th Century Opera Singer

The most amazing thing about the internet is to watch the constant growth of information coming online – and most family historians know that it can really pay off to go back every once and awhile and redo your initial research. Here is a case in point.

For the last few years my husband and I have been hunting down information about his great-grandfather Antonio Franchini – the Italian operatic tenor. We’ve been searching painstakingly in Italian, French, English and Spanish using a wide range of keywords. So far we had found snippets of information here and there – in 19th century newspapers – and as well as lists of opera house repertoires. Basically, we had a lot of dry data , which did allow us to construct a timeline for Antonio Franchini’s singing career, but not much else. Well last night my husband plugged in some of his keywords once again – and look what he came up with – an image of his great-grandfather in the role of il re Manfredi (King Manfredi) in the opera Ruy Blas. What a find! it’s a black and white (albumin) photograph from the archives of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and it can be found online at their Bibliomediateca. The notation (Con gli abitit del re Manfredi nell’opera Ruy Blas) translates as “in the garb of the king, Manfredi, in the opera Ruy Blas. It was taken by the photographer Schemboche in 1876 at the theatre itself.

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