Personalities | Gaspare Spontini | Early Romantic | Classical

(Gas’-pa-ra Spôn-te’-ne) 1774–1851
Italian composer

Spontini was the central figure in French serious opera between 1800 and 1820. Many of Spontini’s early Italian comic operas are now lost, and he achieved only modest success before settling in Paris in 1803. He was composer for Empress Joséphine from 1805, and in 1810 was appointed director of the Théâtre-Italien. His reputation was secured before he moved to Berlin as general music director in 1820, but his tenure was soured by personal and national rivalry (Weber was generally viewed as the authentic German opera composer), and only the support of the king, a passionate admirer of his work, kept Spontini there until 1842. His final years were spent in Paris. Spontini was another in a long line of Italian émigrés whose music embodies a synthesis of Italian and French styles, infusing opera seria with Italianate lyricism. His success comes from his sense of dramatic evolution and pacing, and proper appreciation of his work often eludes the listener who knows only individual numbers. His finest operas include La vestale (1807) and Fernand Cortez (1809).

Recommended Recording:
La Vestale, soloists, La Scala Chorus and Orchestra (cond) Riccardo Muti (Sony)

Introduction | Early Romantic | Classical
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