Personalities | Antonio Salieri | Classical Era | Opera
When he was 16, Antonio Salieri was the protégé of the Bohemian composer Florian Gassmann (1729–74), who brought him to Vienna in 1766. Gassmann was influential at the imperial court and, as well as teaching Salieri composition, introduced him to some very high-ranking contacts. Salieri’s first surviving opera, written when he was 20, was Le donne letterate (‘The Cultured Ladies’, 1770). It was a success, so much so that only four years later, Salieri – still only 24 – was appointed court composer to the Austrian Emperor Joseph II.
In 1784, he succeeded Gluck at the Paris Opéra, where he was regarded as Gluck’s true successor. His exalted, original and rather austere post-Gluckian operas, Les Danaïdes (‘The Danaids’, 1784) and Tarare (1787), were his greatest accomplishments while in Paris. In 1788, he became Kapellmeister to the Austrian court, and in this post Salieri was in charge of Italian opera. Salieri’s life and work was now centred on Vienna, where he wrote some 30 operas, including both opera seria and opera buffa, including La fiera di Venezia (‘The Fair of Venice’, 1772) and Falstaff (1799), although he was interested in combining both elements in a single work. Most Salieri operas were produced in Vienna, but he also scored much success in Milan, Venice and Rome. Salieri’s output observed the musical conventions of his era and show Gluck’s influence, with accompanied recitative, dramatic choral writing and careful declamation. His popularity, considerable in his lifetime, failed to endure once that era was past.
Introduction | Classical Era | Opera
Major Operas | Les Danaïdes by Antonio Salieri | Classical Era
Personalities | Emanuel Schikaneder | Classical Era | Opera
Houses & Companies | Paris Opéra | High Romantic | Opera
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