Personalities | Reinhard Keiser | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
Reinhard Keiser was born in Teuchern, Germany. When his mentor, Johann Sigismud Kusser (1660–1727) relocated to Hamburg in around 1693, Keiser succeeded him as Kappellmeister in Brunswick. There, Keiser produced Kusser’s first opera, Basilius (1694), and wrote several operas of his own, but after only three years he followed his mentor to Hamburg. Keiser formed a partnership with the librettist Christian Heinrich Postel. A series of successful operas staged at the Theater am Gänsemarkt followed, beginning with Adonis (1697) and continuing at the rate of five every season. As co-proprietor of the theatre after 1702, Keiser oversaw performances of the early works of Handel, among others. Afterwards, as sole director, Keiser made Hamburg the premier operatic centre in Germany. His own music contributed much to this reputation. Keiser’s Claudius (1703), Octavia (1705) and Croesus (1710) demonstrated a lyricism and emotional power that was said to match the best of the Italian and French operas. The exact number of operas written by Keiser is unknown, although estimates have been made of around 75 or 100; however, of this prolific output only 19 complete operas have survived.
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