Personalities | Domenico Cimarosa | Classical Era | Opera
The prolific Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa, who was born near Naples, first attracted attention with his opera Le stravaganze del conte (‘The Eccentricity of the Count’, 1772). By 1787, Cimarosa had produced one success after another, with 15 operas written for opera houses in Rome and Naples. In 1787, however, Cimarosa accepted a post as maestro di cappella at St Petersburg. There he scored further success with La vergine del sole (‘The Virgin of the Sun’ 1788) and Cleopatra (1789) but he now had a dazzling international reputation and this made him constantly in demand outside Russia. In 1791, he became Kapellmeister to the imperial court in Vienna and, the following year, produced yet another success, Il matrimonio segreto (‘The Secret Marriage’, 1792). The same year, though, the Austrian emperor died and Cimarosa’s appointment in Vienna came to an end. He returned home to Naples and a post as maestro di cappella to the royal court. Then, in 1799, Cimarosa was imprisoned after King Ferdinand fled in the face of invasion by the armies of Revolutionary France. On his release, Cimarosa headed back to St Petersburg, but died in Venice on the way. His output of more than 60 operas (nearly all of which survive) are noted for their melodic warmth, sparkle and vivacity.
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