Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Brent, Charlotte

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BRENT, CHARLOTTE (d. 1802), afterwards Mrs. Pinto, singer, was the daughter of a fencing-master and alto singer, who sang in Handel's 'Jephtha' in 1752. Miss Brent was a favourite pupil of Dr. Arne, and for her he composed much of his later and more florid music, after his wife had retired from public life. Miss Brent's first appearance took place in February 1758 at a concert. On 3 March of the same year she sang at Drury Lane in Arne's 'Eliza,' performed as an oratorio for the composer's benefit. Her voice at this time had not attained its full strength, and Garrick (who was no musician) refused to give her an engagement. However, she was more fortunate at Covent Garden, where she appeared as Polly in the 'Beggar's Opera' on 10 Oct. 1759, and repeated the same part for thirty-seven consecutive nights. The following are some of the principal parts which she played at Covent Garden during her ten years' connection with it. Rachel in the 'Jovial Crew' (14 Feb. 1760), Sabrina in 'Comus' (27 March 1760), the Fine Lady in 'Lethe' (8 April 1760), Sally in 'Thomas and Sally (28 Oct. 1760), Mandane in 'Artaxerxes' (2 Feb. 1762), Margery in the 'Dragon of Wantley' (4 May 1762), Rosetta in 'Love in a Village' (8 Dec. 1762), Flirtilla in the 'Guardian Outwitted' (12 Dec. 1764), Patty in the 'Maid of the Mill' (31 Jan. 1765), Miss Biddy in 'Miss in her Teens' (22 March 1766), Lady Lucy in the 'Accomplished Maid' (3 Dec. 1766), Rosamund in the opera of that name (21 April 1767), Jacqueline in the 'Royal Merchant' (14 Dec. 1767), Sophia in 'Tom Jones' (14 Jan. 1768), and Thais in the 'Court of Alexander' (1770). She was the original Sally, Mandane, Flirtilla, Rosetta, and Patty, most of which parts were written to display her perfect execution and good style. In 1764-5 Tenducci and Miss Brent performed in 'Samson' and other Handelian selections at Ranelagh. She sang at the Hereford festival in 1765, at Gloucester in 1766, and at Worcester in 1767. In the autumn of 1766 she became the second wife of Thomas Pinto; her marriage is said to have so disgusted Dr. Arne that on hearing her mentioned he exclaimed, 'Oh, sir, pray don't name her; she has married a fiddler.' About 1770 she left Covent Garden, where Miss Catley was beginning to occupy the place she had hitherto filled, and for the next ten years she went a succession of tours with her husband in Scotland and Ireland, appearing at Dublin in 1773 as Urganda in Michael Arne's 'Cymon.' Although she had acquired large sums of money, she was embarrassed in her old age. In 1784 she was living in Blackmoor Street, Clare Market. On 22 April of this year she reappeared at Covent Garden for one night in 'Comus,' singing for the benefit of Hull, the stage-manager. It was said that her voice still 'possessed the remains of those qualities for which it had been so much celebrated power, flexibility, and sweetness.' After her husband's death she devoted herself to the education of her talented step-grandson, G. F. Pinto [q. v.], whose premature decease she survived. In the latter part of her life Mrs. Pinto lived at 6 Vauxhall Walk, and was so poor that Fawcett, the actor, used to give her a dinner every Sunday, and 'sometimes a bit of finery, of which she was very fond.' Here she died 10 April 1802, and was buried (in the same grave as G. F. Pinto) in the churchyard of St. Margaret's, Westminster, on the 15th of the same month. The only portrait of her seems to be a small medallion with Beard in 'Thomas and Sally,' printed for Robert Sawyer.

[Information from Mr. W. H. Husk; Thespian Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1805; European Magazine, xli. 335; Genest's History of the Stage, vol. iv.; Busby's Anecdotes, i. 119; Parke's Musical Memoirs, i. 57, 150; Pohl's Mozart in London, 43; Annals of the Three Choirs, 41, 43.]

W. B. S.