Showing posts with label Domenico Sarro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Domenico Sarro. Show all posts

24 December 2018

Domenico Sarro – composer

Court choirmaster wrote several important operas

Domenico Sarro, as depicted by Nicolò Maria Rossi
Domenico Sarro, as depicted
by Nicolò Maria Rossi
Opera composer Domenico Sarro was born on this day in 1679 in Trani, a seaport north of Bari in Apulia.

He was given the middle name, Natale, which is the Italian word for Christmas.

Sarro is famous for being the composer of Achille in Sciro, the opera chosen for the opening night of the new Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 1737.

He studied music from the age of six at Sant’Onofrio, a church near Porta Capuana, one of the ancient city gates of Naples, which at the time was the location of the city’s music conservatory. His first opera, L’opera d’amore, was performed in Naples in 1702.

He was appointed assistant choirmaster to the Neapolitan court in 1702 and by 1706 was having his religious music performed in churches in Naples. He wrote several of what were then referred to as three-act musical dramas, which were performed in theatres and private palaces throughout the city.

Sarro’s opera, Didone abbandonata, was premiered on February 1, 1724 at the Teatro San Bartolomeo in Naples. It was the first setting of a major libretto by the writer Pietro Metastasio, who would become the most celebrated librettist of the 18th century. The intermezzo, Dorina e Nibbio or L’impresario delle canarie, has been performed extensively by orchestras since then, right up to the present day. It has also been imitated by composers such as Tomaso Albinoni, Francesco Gasparini, Leonardo Leo and Martini il Tedesco.

The title page of Sarro's opera Didone Abbandonata
The title page of Sarro's opera
Didone Abbandonata
Sarro’s 1726 opera, Valdemaro, is considered important because it demonstrates Sarro’s interest in the upper voice, as in this opera the melodic lines are dominant in the upper voices.

Sarro, sometimes called Sarri, also wrote many vocal cantatas, which have been admired by music experts for their charm and inventiveness.

The only known portrait of Domenico Sarro is part of a painting called The Viceroy at the Festa of the Quattro Altari by Nicolò Maria Rossi. Sarro is one of the many composers depicted by the artist as part of the Neapolitan Court.

Domenico Sarro died in Naples in 1744, aged 65.

Trani's 12th century duomo - the Cattedrale di San Nicola Pellegrino - stands on a platform on the sea
Trani's 12th century duomo - the Cattedrale di San Nicola
Pellegrino - stands on a platform on the sea
Travel tip:

The port of Trani, where Domenico Sarro was born, is about 40km (25 miles) to the northwest of Bari. It was a flourishing port as early as the 11th century because of its location on the Adriatic Sea. In 1063 Trani issued a maritime law code, believed now to be the oldest in western Europe. Trani has lost its old walls and bastions but still has a 13th century fort,  which has been restored as a museum and performance venue. The 12th century Cathedral on a raised site over the sea is dedicated to St Nicholas the pilgrim, a Greek who died there in 1094 while on the way to Rome.

Search tripadvisor for a hotel in Trani

The church of San Pietro a Majella, looking along Via dei Tribunali
The church of San Pietro a Majella, looking
along Via dei Tribunali
Travel tip:

Sarro studied at the Music Conservatory when it was in Sant’Onofrio in Naples. Today, the Music Conservatory is in the complex of San Pietro a Majella, close to Via dei Tribunali, one of the main thoroughfares in the heart of the centro storico in Naples. It is the last of a string of establishments that were once music conservatories in Naples, dating back to when the Spanish ruled the city in the 16th century. One of the earliest, I Poveri di Gesù Cristo, was founded in 1589 by Marcello Fossataro, a Franciscan monk. It was next to the Church of Santa Maria a Colonna on Via dei Tribunale, but in 1743 it was converted into a church seminary.

More reading:

Tomaso Albinoni, the Venetian most famous for his haunting Adagio in G Minor

How Pietro Metastasio progressed from street entertainer to great librettist

Francesco Gasparini, the musical director who gave Vivaldi a job

Also on this day:

Vigilia di Natale - Christmas Eve

1836: The birth of food canning pioneer Francesco Cirio

1897: The birth of Lazzaro Ponticelli, the longest surviving veteran of World War One


12 April 2018

Caffarelli – opera singer

Tempestuous life of a talented male soprano

Caffarelli was taught to sing by the renowned composer and tutor Nicola Porpora
Caffarelli was taught to sing by the renowned
composer and tutor Nicola Porpora
The castrato singer who performed under the stage name of Caffarelli was born Gaetano Maiorano on this day in 1710 in Bitonto in the province of Bari in Apulia.

Caffarelli had a reputation for being temperamental and for fighting duels with little provocation, but he was popular with audiences and was able to amass a large fortune for himself.

One theory is that his stage name, Caffarelli, was taken from his teacher, Caffaro, who gave him music lessons when he was a child, but another theory is that he took the name from a patron, Domenico Caffaro.

When Maiorano was ten years old he was given the income from two vineyards owned by his grandmother to enable him to study music. The legal document drawn up mentioned that the young boy wished to be castrated and become a eunuch.

Maiorano became a pupil of Nicola Porpora, the composer and singing teacher, who is reputed to have kept him working from one sheet of exercises for years before telling him there was no more he could be taught because he was the greatest singer in Europe.

In 1726 Maiorano made his debut in Rome, aged 15, under the stage name Caffarellino. He sang the third female role in Domenico Sarro’s Valdemoro.

A drawing of Caffarelli by the caricaturist Pier Leone Ghezzi
A drawing of Caffarelli by the caricaturist
Pier Leone Ghezzi
His fame spread and he performed in Venice, Turin, Milan and Florence.

In London, at the King’s Theatre, he performed the title role in Handel’s Serse, singing the famous aria ‘Ombra mai fu.’

He went on to work in Madrid, Vienna and Lisbon, but his career in France was cut short after he badly wounded a poet during a duel and had to leave the country in disgrace.

Caffarelli took up a post at the royal chapel in Naples and often performed at the Teatro San Carlo in the city. As a first-rate castrato he was able to command large fees and he bought himself impressive estates in Naples and Calabria.

He was unpredictable on stage and sometimes conversed with people in boxes during other performer’s solos. He was sometimes kept under house arrest or put in prison after fighting duels or assaulting someone.

Caffarelli was a mezzo soprano with an extensive range and considered to be one of the finest singers of his time. Unlike his rival, Farinelli, who ended his career at 32, Caffarelli carried on performing well into his fifties.

In later life he is said to have given generously to charity. Caffarelli died in Naples in 1783.

The Piazza Cattedrale in Bitonto
The Piazza Cattedrale in Bitonto
Travel tip:

Bitonto, in Apulia, where Caffarelli was born, is known as the ‘City of Olives’ due to its numerous olive groves, which produce extra virgin olive oil for export to Europe and America. The city lies approximately 11km (7 miles) to the west of Bari and has a medieval castle and a Romanesque Cathedral, the Cattedrale di San Valentino.

Teatro San Carlo in Naples
Teatro San Carlo in Naples
Travel tip:

Teatro San Carlo in Naples, where Caffarelli regularly performed, is thought to be the oldest opera house in the world. It was officially opened in 1737, way ahead of La Scala in Milan and La Fenice in Venice. The theatre is in Via San Carlo close to Piazza Plebiscito, the main square in Naples. It was designed by Giovanni Antonio Medrano for the Bourbon King of Naples, Charles I. In the magnificent auditorium the royal box is surmounted by the crown of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

More reading:

How Farinelli became music's first superstar

Nicola Porpora - opera composer and brilliant teacher

Why Francesca Cuzzoni is remembered as opera's first diva

Also on this day:

1948: The birth of World Cup-winning soccer manager Marcello Lippi

1950: The birth of entrepreneur Flavio Briatore