Personalities | Saverio Mercadante | Early Romantic | Classical

(Sa-va’-re-o Mâr-ka-dan’-ta) 1795–1870
Italian composer

Mercadante was one of the greatest opera composers contemporary with Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi, although his works are now rarely performed. He studied composition with Zingarelli and wrote his first opera in 1819. His first major success was with Elisa e Claudio (1821), which established his European reputation. Il giuramento (‘The Oath’, 1837), one of his finest works, provides a link between the bel canto style of Bellini and Donizetti and the more melodramatic intensity of Verdi. In 1840 he succeeded Zingarelli as director of the Naples Conservatory, a post he held until his death. By 1862 Mercadante was blind, and composed by dictating. He was enormously prolific, composing 60 operas as well as ballets, cantatas, sacred works, orchestral sinfonias and chamber music.

Recommended Recording:
Orazi e Curiazi, soloists, Philharmonia (cond) David Parry (Opera Rara)

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