Personalities | Antonio Sartorio | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera

1630–80, Italian

Nothing is known of the first 30 years of Antonio Sartorio’s life, except that he was Venetian. He made his first appearance in the historical records in 1661, when the first of his 15 operas, Gl’amori infruttuosi di Pirro (‘Pirro’s Hopeless Love’, 1661) was performed in Venice. In 1664, Sartorio was appointed Kappellmeister at the ducal court of Brunswick-Lüneberg, and he remained in the post until 1675. However, he journeyed every year to Venice, where he hired musicians and oversaw the production of his operas at carnival time. In 1676, Sartori returned to Venice as maestro di cappella at St Mark’s. His operas mark the height of the Venetian opera tradition and introduced several ingredients that later became standard fare: most notable among them was the lament. Sartorio was yet another composer to produce an opera on the tragic theme of Orpheus, in his case in 1672. His Orfeo created such a sensation that it eclipsed Cavalli’s opera Massenzio (1673), which seemed so dull by comparison that the management of the Teatro San Luca feared an anti-climax and its performance was cancelled.

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