Personalities | Vicente Martín y Soler | Classical Era | Opera

1754–1806, Spanish

The Spanish composer Martín y Soler wrote his first opera, entitled La Madrilena (‘The Girl from Madrid’, 1776), which was probably a zarzuela. Afterwards, Martín went to Italy, where he gained a reputation for writing both serious and comic operas that were performed in Lucca, Parma, Turin, Venice and Naples. Soon his gifts for beautiful melody, striking orchestration and diverting characterization were widely recognized and he was encouraged to visit Vienna. There, together with the renowned librettist Da Ponte, he produced three operas, Il burbero di buon cuore (‘The Moaner with the Heart of Gold’, 1786), L’arbore di Diana (‘Diana’s Tree’, 1787) and Una cosa rara (‘A Rare Thing’, 1786), the most successful of the trio. It displaced Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, which had been played for the first time earlier the same year. In 1787, Martín y Soler received an invitation to St Petersburg, where he became court composer to the Empress Catherine II (the Great). In St Petersburg, Martín wrote two operas, directed several opera productions and, most significantly, helped lay the foundations of native Russian opera.

Sounds Familiar

‘O quanto un si bel giubilo!’
Mozart reacted sardonically to the fact that Una cosa rara by Martín y Soler replaced his own opera Figaro in Vienna in 1786. When writing his Don Giovanni, he quoted an aria from Una cosa rara, ‘O quanto un si bel giubilo!’, in the banquet scene that preceded the hero’s descent into hell.

Introduction | Classical Era | Opera
Personalities | Pietro Metastasio | Classical Era | Opera


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