Personalities | Baldassare Galuppi | Classical Era | Opera

1706–85, Italian

Baldassare Galuppi wrote his first opera, La fede nell’incostanza (‘Faith in Inconstancy’, 1722), when he was 16. It failed. Undeterred, Galuppi studied with Antonio Lotti (1667–1740) to improve his technique. Eventually, in 1729, he achieved his first big success, in Venice, with Dorinda. This opened the door to a brilliant career in which Galuppi produced some 100 works. In 1741, he began writing operas for London, including Scipione in Cartagine (‘Scipio (Africanus) in Carthage’, 1742) and Sirbace (1743), which were regularly performed in subsequent years. Fanny Burney (1752–1840), the diarist and novelist, believed that, of all Italian composers, Galuppi had the most influence on English music.

After returning to Venice in 1743, Galuppi divided his output between opera and church music and in 1762 was appointed maestro di cappella at St Mark’s. He had already made a seminal contribution to opera in 1749 when he wrote the first full-length opera buffa, L’Arcadia in Brenta: he later gave this genre an expanded version of the ‘chain finale’ where successive sections in different rhythm, tempo and texture respond to the dramatic situation and convey the flux of emotions which are portrayed. Galuppi preceded Cimarosa as maestro di cappella at St Petersburg, where his Ifigenia in Tauride (‘Iphigenia in Tauris’, 1768) was performed. Galuppi wrote his last opera, La serva per amore (‘The Servant for Love’) in 1773.

Introduction | Classical Era | Opera
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