Houses & Companies | Baroque Opera in Naples | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
Opera first reached Naples when Venetian companies brought their productions to the city after 1648. At that time, the city was recovering from the spate of murders and massacres that had taken place during the revolt against Spanish rule led by the fisherman Tommaso Aniello Masaniello. Masaniello was killed in 1647 by agents working for the Spanish Viceroy Count d’Onate. The introduction of opera in Naples was part of the count’s subsequent attempts to calm the populace. What d’Onate actually accomplished was the establishment of a tradition of opera in Naples that has lasted to the present day. Among the first operas to be seen there were Ciro (1653–54) by Francesco Provenzale and Orontea (1654) by Francesco Cirillo. Subsequently, the Venetian repertory gave operatic performances at the Teatro San Bartolomeo. After 1676, operas were produced at the Teatro for royal occasions, a task taken over in 1684 by Alessandro Scarlatti. The energetic, inventive Scarlatti was a great boon to the cause of Neapolitan opera. The San Bartolomeo was enlarged to hold bigger audiences, and while he remained in Naples, Scarlatti claimed to have written 80 operas for the Teatro, though half that number was more likely.
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