Domenico Cimarosa (17 December 1749, Aversa, Province of Caserta – Venice 11 January 1801) was an Italian opera composer of the Neapolitan school. He wrote more than eighty operas during his lifetime, including his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto (1792).
Early life and education
Cimarosa was born in Aversa in Campania.
His parents were poor, but, anxious to give their son a good education, they sent him to a free school connected with one of the monasteries in Naples after moving to that city. The organist of the monastery, Padre Polcano, was struck by the boy's intellect, and voluntarily instructed him in the elements of music and also in the ancient and modern literature of his country. Because of his influence, Cimarosa obtained a scholarship at the musical institute of Santa Maria di Loreto in Naples, where he remained for eleven years, chiefly studying the great masters of the old Italian school; Niccoló Piccinni, Antonio Maria Gaspare Sacchini, and other musicians of repute are mentioned among his teachers.
At the age of twenty-three, Cimarosa began his career as a composer with an opera buffa called Le stravaganze del conte, first performed at the Teatro del Fiorentini at Naples in 1772. The work met with approval, and was followed in the same year by Le pazzie di Stelladaura e di Zoroastro, a farce full of humour and eccentricity. This work was also successful, and the fame of the young composer began to spread all over Italy. In 1774, he was invited to Rome to write an opera for the stagione of that year; and there he produced another comic opera called L'italiana in Londra.
Over the next thirteen years, Cimarosa wrote a number of operas for the various theatres of Italy, living temporarily in Rome, in Naples, or wherever else his vocation as conductor of his works happened to take him. From 1784 to 1787, he lived in Florence, writing exclusively for the theatre of that city. The productions of this period of his life are very numerous, consisting of operas (both comic and serious), cantatas, and various sacred compositions. The following works may be mentioned, among many others: Cajo Mario; the three Biblical operas, Assalone, La giuditta, and Il sacrificio d'Abramo; Il convito di pietra; and La ballerina amante, a comic opera first performed at Venice with enormous success.
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