Susannah Maria Cibber

Singer, Musical Artist

1714 – 1766


Who was Susannah Maria Cibber?

Susannah Maria Cibber, also known as Susannah Maria Arne, was a celebrated English singer and actress and the sister of the composer Thomas Arne. Although she began her career as a soprano, her voice lowered in the early part of her career to that of a true contralto. She was universally admired for her ability to move her audiences emotionally both as an actress and vocalist. Possessing a sweet, expressive, and agile singing voice with a wide vocal range, Cibber was an immensely popular singer, even if at times her voice was criticized for a lack of polished technique. Charles Burney wrote of her singing that "by a natural pathos, and perfect conception of the words, she often penetrated the heart, when others, with infinitely greater voice and skill, could only reach the ear." Cibber was particularly admired by Handel, who wrote numerous parts especially for her including the contralto arias in his 1741 oratorio Messiah, the role of Micah in Samson, the role of Lichas in Hercules and the role of David in Saul among others. In the mid-1730s she began appearing in plays in addition to appearing in operas and oratorios. She became the greatest dramatic actress of the eighteenth century London stage and at the time of her death was the highest paid actress in England.

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  • England
Lived in
  • London
Jan 30, 1766

on July 23, 2013


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