Personalities | Tommaso Traetta | Classical Era | Opera
The Italian composer Tommaso Traetta reflected Gluck’s ideals for opera, in which orchestration, choral scenes, dance and solo arias were combined. One example of these principles was Traetta’s setting of an Italian translation of the text Rameau had used in his own Hippolyte et Aricie (‘Hippolytus and Aricia’, 1759), which married the French and Italian opera styles. However, Traetta was much more than a copyist. He had a gift for impressive chorus work, as shown in his Ifigenia in Tauride (1763). Just as admirable was his symphonic treatment of operatic themes and his ability to write graceful melody; this last was admirably displayed in his short solo songs known as cavatinas and in his da capo arias. Traetta’s early operas were written in the main for Naples and Parma, but in 1765 he moved to Venice, where his output included two comic operas. In 1768, Traetta became another composer to be tempted from Western Europe to Russia, where Catherine the Great appointed him director of opera. For the Russian court, Traetta wrote Antigona (1772), based on an ancient Greek tragedy. However, life in Russia had a bad effect on his health and he departed in 1775. He died four years later in Venice.
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