Personalities | Johann Adolf Hasse | Classical Era | Opera
At the age of 22, Johann Adolf Hasse had his first opera, Antioco (1721), produced before being sent to Italy to study under Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725). In Naples, Hasse’s ‘dialect comedies’ Sesostrate (1726) and La sorella amante (‘The Loving Sister’, 1729) made him something of a local celebrity. Hasse’s Artaserse (1730), staged in Venice, proved to be a milestone in the development of opera. His music gave the stylized conventions of contemporary opera a new slant, with greater contrast and expression and more chances for the singers to demonstrate the beauty and agility of their voices. Another opera in the same vein – Dalisa – appeared that year. In this same brilliant year of his career, Hasse was invited to the court of Saxony, where the heir to the electorate, Prince Frederick Augustus II, was keen to establish an Italian opera company in Dresden. The company, with Hasse as its director, was established in 1733, after Frederick Augustus succeeded to the electorate. Subsequently Dresden became a centre of opera in Germany that was second only to Berlin. Hasse himself was recognized as an important influence on the development of opera seria, which acquired a new depth, a greater dramatic sweep and emotional appeal for audiences.
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