Giovanni Paisiello

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Missing image
PaiselloVigeeLeBrun.jpg
Paisiello at the clavichord, by Marie Louise Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, 1791. The score is Nina, o la pazza d'amore

Giovanni Paisiello (or Paesieixo) (May 9, 1741June 5, 1816), was an Italian composer of the Classical era.

Paisiello was born at Taranto, where he attended the Jesuit college. The beauty of his singing voice attracted so much attention that in 1754 he was sent to the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio at Naples, where he studied under Francesco Durante, and in due course 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 being now firmly established, he settled for some years at Naples, where, despite the popularity of Niccola 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 Borbone. 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.

When, in 1816, Gioacchino Rossini set the same libretto to music, under the title of Almaviva, it was hissed from the stage; yet, under its changed title, Il Barbiere, it is now acknowledged as Rossini's greatest work, while Paisiello's opera is consigned to oblivion -- a strange instance of poetical vengeance, since Paisiello himself had many years previously endeavoured to eclipse the fame of Pergolesi by resetting the libretto of his famous intermezzo, La Serva padrona.

Paisiello left Russia in 1784, and, after producing Il Re Teodoro at Vienna, entered the service of Ferdinand IV at Naples, where he composed many of his best operas, including Nina and La Molinara. After many vicissitudes, resulting from political and dynastic changes, he was invited to Paris (1802) by Napoleon, whose favor he had won five years previously by a march composed for the funeral of General Hoche. Napoleon treated him munificently, while cruelly neglecting two far greater composers, Luigi Cherubini and Etienne Méhul, to whom the new favorite transferred the hatred he had formerly borne to Cimarosa, Guglielmi and Piccinni.

Paisiello conducted the music of the court in the Tuileries with a stipend of 10,000 francs and 4800 for lodging, but he entirely failed to conciliate the Parisian public, who received his opera Proserpine so coldly that, in 1803, he requested and with some difficulty obtained permission to return to Italy, upon the plea of his wife's ill health. On his arrival at Naples Paisiello was reinstated in his former appointments by Joseph Bonaparte and Joachim Murat, but he had taxed his genius beyond its strength, and was unable to meet the demands now made upon it for new ideas. His prospects, too, were precarious. The power of the Bonaparte family was tottering to its fall; and Paisiello's fortunes fell with it. The death of his wife in 1815 tried him severely. His health failed rapidly, and constitutional jealousy of the popularity of others was a source of worry and vexation.

Paisiello's operas (of which he is known to have composed 94) abound with melodies, the graceful beauty of which is still warmly appreciated. Perhaps the best known of these airs is the famous "Nel cor piu" from La Molinara, immortalized by Beethoven's variations. His church music was very voluminous, comprising eight masses, besides many smaller works; he also produced fifty-one instrumental compositions and many detached pieces. Manuscript scores of many of his operas were presented to the library of the British Museum by Domenico Dragonetti.

The library of the Gerolamini at Naples possesses an interesting manuscript compilation recording Paisiello's opinions on contemporary composers, and exhibiting him as a somewhat severe critic, especially of the work of Pergolesi.

Works

  • Il ciarlone (12.5.1764 Bologna)
  • I francesi brillanti (24.6.1764 Bologna)
  • Madama l'umorista, o Gli stravaganti (26.1.1765 Modena)
  • L'amore in ballo (carn.1765 Venezia SM)
  • I bagni d'Abano (spr.1765 Parma)
  • Demetrio (Lent.1765 Modena)
  • Il negligente (1765 Parma)
  • Le virtuose ridicole (1765 Parma)
  • Le nozze disturbate (carn.1776 Venezia SM)
  • Le finte contesse (2.1766 Roma V) [Il Marchese di Tulissano?]
  • La vedova di bel genio (spr.1766 Napoli N)
  • L'idolo cinese (spr.1767 Napoli N)
  • Lucio Papirio dittatore (sum.1767 Napoli SC)
  • Il furbo malaccorto (win.1767 Napoli N)
  • Le 'mbroglie de la Bajasse (1767 Napoli F)
  • Alceste in Ebuda, ovvero Olimpia (20.1.1768 Napoli SC)
  • Festa teatrale in musica (31.5.1768 Napoli PR) [Le nozze di Peleo e Tetide]
  • La luna abitata (sum.1768 Napoli N)
  • La finta maga per vendetta (aut?.1768 Napoli F)
  • L'osteria di Marechiaro (win.1768 Napoli F)
  • La serva fatta padrona (sum.1769 Napoli F) [rev. Le 'mbroglie de la Bajasse]
  • Don Chisciotte della Mancia (sum.1769 Napoli F)
  • L'arabo cortese (win.1769 Napoli N)
  • La Zelmira, o sia La marina del Granatello (sum.1770 Napoli N)
  • Le trame per amore (7.10.1770 Napoli N)
  • Annibale in Torino (16.1.1771 Torino TR)
  • La somiglianza de' nomi (spr.1771 Napoli N)
  • I scherzi d'amore e di fortuna (sum.1771 Napoli N)
  • Artaserse (26.12.1771 Modena)
  • Semiramide in villa (carn.1772 Roma Ca)
  • Motezuma (1.1772 Roma D)
  • La Dardanè (spr.1772 Napoli N)
  • Gli amante comici (aut.1772 Napoli N)
  • Don Anchise Campanone (1773 Venezia) [rev. Gli amante comici]
  • L'innocente fortunata (carn.1773 Venezia SM)
  • Sismano nel Mogol (carn.1773 Milano RD)
  • Il tamburo (spr.1773 Napoli N) [Il tamburo notturno]
  • Alessandro nell'Indie (26.12.1773 Modena)
  • Andromeda (carn.1774 Milano RD)
  • Il duello (spr.1774 Napoli N)
  • Il credulo deluso (aut.1774 Napoli N)
  • La frascatana (aut.1774 Venezia SS) [L'infante de Zamora]
  • Il divertimento dei numi (4.12.1774 Napoli PR)
  • Demofoonte (carn.1775 Venezia SB)
  • La discordia fortunata (carn.1775 Venezia SS) [L'avaro deluso]
  • L'amor ingegnoso, o sia La giovane scaltra (carn.1775 Padova)
  • Le astuzie amorose (spr.1775 Napoli N)
  • Socrate immaginario (aut.1775 Napoli N)
  • Il gran Cid (3.11.1775 Firenze P)
  • Le due contesse (3.1.1776 Roma V)
  • La disfatta di Dario (carn.1776 Roma A)
  • Dal finto il vero (spr.1776 Napoli N)
  • Nitteti (28.1.1777 St. Peterburg)
  • Lucinda e Armidoro (aut.1777 St. Peterburg)
  • Achille in Sciro (6.2.1778 St. Peterburg)
  • Lo sposo burlato (24.7.1778 St. Peterburg)
  • Gli astrologi immaginari (14.2.1779 St. Peterburg E) [Le philosophe imaginaire]
  • Il matrimonio inaspettato (1779 Kammenïy Ostrov) [La contadina di spirito]
  • La finta amante (5.6.1780 Mogilev) [Camiletta]
  • Alcide al bivio (6.12.1780 St. Peterburg E)
  • La serva padrona (10?.9.1781 Tsarskoye Selo)
  • Il duello comico (1782 Tsarskoye Selo) [rev. Il duello]
  • Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile (26.9.1782 St. Peterburg)
  • Il mondo della luna (1782 Kammenïy Ostrov)
  • Il re Teodoro in Venezia (23.8.1784 Wien B)
  • Antigono (12.10.1785 Napoli SC)
  • La grotta di Trofonio (12.1785 Napoli F)
  • Olimpiade (20.1.1786 Napoli SC)
  • Le gare generose (spr.1786 Napoli F) [Gli schiavi per amore; Le bon maître, ou L'esclave par amour]
  • Pirro (12.1.1787 Napoli SC)
  • Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile [rev] (1787 Napoli F)
  • La modista raggiratrice (aut.1787 Napoli F) [La scuffiara amante, o sia Il maestro di scuola napolitano; La scuffiara raggiratrice]
  • Giunone e Lucina (8.9.1787 Napoli SC)
  • Fedra (1.1.1788 Napoli SC)
  • L'amor contrastato (carn.1789 Napoli F) [L'amor contrastato o sia La molinarella]
  • Catone in Utica (5.2.1789 Napoli SC)
  • Nina, o sia La pazza per amore (25.6.1789 Caserta)
  • I zingari in fiera (21.11.1789 Napoli Fo)
  • Le vane gelosie (spr.1790 Napoli F)
  • Zenobia in Palmira (30.5.1790 Napoli SC)
  • La molinara (1790 Wien) [rev. L'amor contrastato]
  • Nina, o sia La pazza per amore [rev] (1790 Napoli F)
  • Ipermestra (6.1791 Padova)
  • La locanda (16.6.1791 London Pantheon) [La locanda di falcone; Lo stambo in Berlina]
  • I giuochi d'Agrigento (16.5.1792 Venezia F)
  • Il fanatico in Berlina (1792 Napoli F) [rev. La locanda]
  • Il ritorno d'Idomeneo (aut.1792 Perugia)
  • Elfrida (4.11.1792 Napoli SC) [Adevolto]
  • Elvira (12.1.1794 Napoli SC)
  • Didone abbandonata (4.11.1794 Napoli SC)
  • Nina, o sia La pazza per amore [rev 2] (1795 Napoli F)
  • Chi la dura la vince (9.6.1797 Milano S)
  • La Daunia felice (26.6.1797 Foggia)
  • Andromaca (4.11.1797 Napoli SC)
  • L'inganno felice (1798 Napoli Fo)
  • Proserpine (28.3.1803 Paris O)
  • Elisa (19.3.1807 Napoli SC) [+ Mayr]
  • I pittagorici (19.3.1808 Napoli SC)

Reference

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