Michael Costa (1808-1884) was a nineteenth century British conductor and composer of Italian birth. He led a number of English musical organizations and ensembles, composed three symphonies, several cantatas, operas including "Don Carlos" (1844), and the oratorios "Eli" (1855) and "Naaman" (1864). While critics somewhat disagreed on his overall merits as a conductor, he was generally well-regarded as an excellent orchestra trainer.
Costa served as maestro of the King’s Theatre (later Her Majesty’s Theatre) from 1830 to 1946 and then founded the Royal Italian Opera at Covent Garden where he remained until 1871. Costa was also named conductor of the Philharmonic Society in 1846, conducting this group until 1854 when he returned to Her Majesty’s Theatre and served as musical director from 1871 until the company merged with the Covent Garden company in 1881.
Costa also led the Sacred Harmonic Society from 1848 until its dissolution in 1882, directed the first years of the Handel Festivals at the Crystal Palace from 1857 to 1880, and led provincial choral festivals in Bradford (1853), Leeds (1874) and Birmingham (1849 to 1882). His most widely performed works, the oratorios “Eli” and “Naaman” were written for these festivals. He received numerous awards in England and abroad, and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1869.