Giovanni Paisiello (or Paesiello) (May 9, 1740 – June 5, 1816) was an Italian composer of the Classical era.
Paisiello was born at Taranto and educated by the Jesuits there. He became known for his beautiful singing voice and in 1754 was sent to the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio at Naples, where he studied under Francesco Durante, and eventually became assistant master. For the theatre of the Conservatorio, which he left in 1763, he wrote some intermezzi, one of which attracted so much notice that he was invited to write two operas, La Pupilla and Il Mondo al Rovescio, for Bologna, and a third, Il Marchese di Tidipano, for Rome.
His reputation now firmly established, he settled for some years at Naples, where, despite the popularity of Niccolò Piccinni, Domenico Cimarosa and Pietro Guglielmi, of whose triumphs he was bitterly jealous, he produced a series of highly successful operas, one of which, L'ldolo cinese, made a deep impression upon the Neapolitan public.
In 1772 Paisiello began to write church music, and composed a requiem for Gennara di Borbone, of the reigning dynasty. In the same year he married Cecilia Pallini, and the marriage was a happy one. In 1776 Paisiello was invited by the empress Catherine II of Russia to St Petersburg, where he remained for eight years, producing, among other charming works, his masterpiece, Il barbiere di Siviglia, which soon attained a European reputation. The fate of this opera marks an epoch in the history of Italian art; for with it the gentle suavity cultivated by the masters of the 18th century died out to make room for the dazzling brilliance of a later period.
Full article ▸