Personalities | Niccolò Jommelli | Classical Era | Opera

1714–74, Italian

Jommelli scored successes with his first operas, L’errore amoroso (‘The Loving Mistake’, 1737) and Ricimero (1740) and Astianatte (1741), and before long these and other operas had won him recognition as an eminent composer. Jommelli’s services were eagerly sought and he wrote operas for Rome, where he was appointed maestro di cappella at St Peter’s in 1749, and that same year composed works for Vienna. Four years later, Jommelli was appointed Kapellmeister to the Duke of Württemberg in Stuttgart, where he composed some 33 operas – some of them for other German courts or for Italian opera houses. However, his experience in Stuttgart marked his style so that by the time he returned to Italy, two new operas he produced were judged too German for Italian tastes. Jommelli had more success with four operas written for Portuguese audiences, but Italian audiences seemed to have turned against him. So many of the operas he wrote for the Italians were failures that the stress caused a fatal fit of apoplexy. Nevertheless, Jommelli’s contribution to the development of opera was not in doubt: his opera seria style was more realistic and less stereotyped than that found in contemporary works.

Introduction | Classical Era | Opera
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