Personalities | Johann Christian Bach | Classical Era | Opera
Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of J. S. Bach (1685–1750), acquired a more thorough training in opera than most contemporary composers, studying first in Germany and afterwards in Italy. Consequently, his operas combined both styles. As a composer, Johann Christian concentrated initially on church music, but he soon transferred his talents to writing for the opera stage. He was 25 when he wrote his first opera, Artaserse (1760), for a Turin opera house. Catone in Utica (‘Cato in Utica’, 1761), written for opera audiences in Naples, followed the next year and Alessandro nell’Indie (‘Alexander (the Great) in India’, 1762) the year after that. Also in 1762, Johann Christian travelled to London, where in the following year, his opera Orione thrilled audiences, which included King George III and Queen Charlotte, with its delicate orchestration. Subsequently, Johann Christian was appointed music master to the queen. However, he continued to write for European opera houses, in Mannheim, Germany and Paris, which staged his last opera Amadis de Gaule (1779). His final London opera was La clemenza di Scipione (‘Scipio’s Mercy’), which was staged in 1778. While in London in 1764, Johann Christian met the eight-year-old prodigy Mozart, and his influence was later evident in Mozart’s own operas Idomeneo and La clemenza di Tito.
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