Showing posts with label Opera buffa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Opera buffa. Show all posts

14 June 2023

Antonio Sacchini - composer

Masterpiece widely acknowledged only after tragic death

Antonio Sacchini, the son of a cook from Florence, who learned music in Naples
Antonio Sacchini, the son of a cook from
Florence, who learned music in Naples
The composer Antonio Sacchini, whose operas brought him fame in England and France in the second half of the 18th century and found favour with the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, among others, was born on this day in 1730 in Florence.

His 1785 work Oedipe à Colone, which fell into the opera seria genre as opposed to the more light-hearted opera buffa, in which he also specialised, has best stood the test of time among his works, although it did not achieve popularity until after his death after initially falling victim to the political climate in the French court.

Sacchini came from humble stock. His father, Gaetano, was thought to be a cook, and it was through his work that the family moved to Naples when he was four, Gaetano having been employed by the future Bourbon King of Naples, Don Carlos, then the Duke of Parma and Piacenza.

This provided the opportunity for Sacchini to receive tuition at the Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto, under the supervision of the composer Francesco Durante, where he learned the basics of composition, harmony and counterpoint, also developing impressive skills as a violinist and studying singing.

After Durante’s death in 1755, Sacchini began writing operas, which were performed by the students at the conservatory to great acclaim, leading to commissions from small theatres in Naples and ultimately the prestigious Teatro di San Carlo, where his first opera seria, Andromaca, was premiered in 1761.

The title page of the libretto for Sacchini's L'olimpiade in 1763
The title page of the libretto for
Sacchini's L'olimpiade in 1763
The following year, by now himself teaching at the conservatory, he was given permission to present his work in Venice and the success of subsequent productions in Padua, Florence and Rome persuaded him to leave his teaching post and set up as an independent composer, initially basing himself in Rome.

More success followed. His comic operas for the Teatro Valle expanded his reputation, although in 1768, rather than continue his self-employment, he accepted a permanent post as director of the Conservatorio dell’Ospedaletto in Venice, a famous institution. There, he continued to compose operas and wrote sacred music both for the conservatory and various Venetian churches, while also acquiring a high reputation as a singing teacher. Among his pupils was Nancy Storace, the soprano for whom Mozart would later create the role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro.

With the encouragement of Charles Burney, the English music historian, composer and critic, Sacchini moved to London in 1772, taking with him Giuseppe Millico, one of the finest castrati then active on the European stage . In London, where he was based for the next nine years, he enjoyed some of his greatest triumphs and found great favour with British audiences. Burney felt he was the foremost composer of the decade. 

However, though he was well paid, his lifestyle meant that he kept little of what he earned. As his debts escalated, he made enemies and his departure for Paris in 1781 was both to escape debtors’ prison and evade the attention among others of Venanzio Rauzzini, a leading male singer on the London circuit, who claimed that Sacchini had appropriated a number of arias of his composition and claimed them as his own. 

As it happened, Sacchini’s arrival in Paris coincided with the visit of Austrian emperor Joseph II, who was familiar with Sacchini’s works and recommended Sacchini to his sister, Queen Marie Antoinette, for patronage. 

French Queen Marie Antoinette  was an admirer of Sacchini's work
French Queen Marie Antoinette 
was an admirer of Sacchini's work
Less fortuitously, he arrived at a time when the music scene in the French capital had become decidedly political.

Marie Antoinette was known for her liking for foreign composers and handed Sacchini a lucrative contract with the Académie Royale de Musique, otherwise known as the Paris Opéra, to produce three new works. 

This was not well received by the head of the Académie Royale, Denis-Pierre-Jean Papillon de la Ferté, who was opposed to the queen's predilection for foreign music and plotted to delay the premiere of Sacchini’s first French opera, Renaud.

Sacchini also found himself caught up in the rivalry between supporters of the German opera composer Christoph Willibald Gluck and those of his Italian counterpart Niccolò Piccinni, one group seeking to undermine Sacchini's work, the other supporting it, but both inclined to change their view if they thought it might disadvantage the other side.

Marie Antoinette continued to support Sacchini until, under heavy pressure, she broke a promise to make his new French opera Oedipe à Colone (Oedipus at Colonus) the first opera to be performed at the new court theatre in Fontainebleau in 1786, explaining that she had effectively been forced to give that honour instead to a French composer.

Sacchini returned to his home in Paris, distraught. Already sick with gout, he took to his bed, refused to eat, and within three days he was dead, at the age of 56.

Oedipe à Colone is generally acknowledged as Sacchini’s masterpiece, remained in the repertoire of the Paris Opéra through the mid-19th century, enjoyed various revivals in the 20th century and as recently as 2005 was staged by the American company Opera Lafayette. 

A 17th century painting of the bustling Piazza del Mercato
in Naples illustrates how the area of the conservatory looked
Travel tip:

The Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto, where Sacchini was a student and later a teacher, was the oldest of the four Naples conservatories that were eventually absorbed into the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella. It was the fulcrum of the Neapolitan musical school between the 17th and 18th centuries. Built in 1537 during the Spanish expansion of Naples under the viceroy, don Pedro de Toledo, it stood between the present Piazza del Mercato and the Castello di Carmine, close to the main port area of the city. Like the other conservatories, it began life as an orphanage, where orphaned children were not only given food and accommodation but also an education. Music, initially, was one of a number of subjects taught but eventually took prominence as the conservatories became the founders of the Neapolitan school of music between the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th. As a borgo - district - Santa Maria di Loreto ultimately ceased to exist after it was completely destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. The monastery that formed part of the original site was turned into a hospital but was flattened during an air raid in December, 1942.

Travel tip:

Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, which first staged an opera by Sacchini in 1761, can be found in Via San Carlo close to Piazza del Plebiscito, the main square in Naples. The theatre was designed by Giovanni Antonio Medrano for the Bourbon King of Naples, Charles I, and opened in 1737, some 41 years before Teatro alla Scala in Milan and 55 years before La Fenice in Venice. San Carlo is now believed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, functioning opera houses in the world. Both Gaetano Donizetti and Gioachino Rossini served as artistic directors at San Carlo and the world premieres of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Rossini’s Mosè were performed there.

Also on this day:

1497: The unsolved murder of Giovanni Borgia, brother of Cesare and Lucrezia

1800: The Battle of Marengo

1837: The death of poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi

1968: The death of Salvatore Quasimodo, Nobel Prize-winning poet


5 August 2022

Leonardo Leo - composer

Baroque musician known for his sense of humour

Leonardo Leo wrote or contributed to more than 70 operas, mainly comic
Leonardo Leo wrote or contributed to
more than 70 operas, mainly comic
A prolific composer of comic operas, Leonardo Leo was born on this day in 1694 in San Vito degli Schiavoni (now known as San Vito dei Normanni) in Apulia.

His most famous comic opera was Amor vuol sofferenza - Love requires suffering - which he produced in 1739. It later became better known as La finta frascatana, and received a lot of praise, but Leo was equally admired for his serious operas and sacred music. He has been credited with forming the Neapolitan style of opera composition.

He was enrolled as a young boy as a student at the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini in Naples and was a pupil first of Francesco Provenzale and later of Nicola Fago. It has been speculated that he may have been taught by Alessandro Scarlatti, but it has since been proved by music historians that he could not possibly have studied with the composer, although he was obviously influenced by his compositions.

Leo’s earliest known work was a sacred drama, L’infidelta abbattuta, which was performed by his fellow students in 1712, while he was still a teenager.

His first opera, Pisistrato, was produced at the court theatre in Naples in 1714 and was much admired.

As an adult Leo held various posts at the royal chapel in Naples while continuing to write for the stage and teach at the conservatory.

Leo was a major influence in the 
development of opera's Neapolitan school 
In 1722 he added comic scenes to Francesco Gasparini’s Bajazet for a performance in Naples. He then started to compose his own comic operas in Neapolitan dialect, such as La ’mpeca scoperta in 1723 and L’Alidoro in 1740.

His most famous serious operas were Demofoonte (1735), Famace (1737) and L’Olimpiade (1737). With L’Olimpiade he became the first composer to introduce the chorus into Neapolitan opera.

Handel was so impressed with Leo’s opera, Catone in Utica, that he used some of the music from it in a performance at the King’s Theatre in London in 1732.

Leo died of a stroke in 1744 while he was composing new arias for a revival of his acclaimed opera, La finta frascatana.

Experts believe Leo was the first composer of the Neapolitan School to achieve a complete mastery over modern harmonic counterpart and agree that in his comic operas he reveals a keen sense of humour. He was to be one of the last major Italian Baroque composers and was well regarded as a teacher, with Niccolò Piccinni and Niccolò Jommelli among his students.

Leo wrote or contributed to about 70 operas, as well as composing oratorios, masses and instrumental works, some of which are still performed and are available on contemporary recordings. His Miserere (🎵Listen 🎵) for double choir and orchestra is regarded as his signature piece.

The Corso Leonardo Leo in San Vito dei Normanni is typical of the town's quaint narrow streets
The Corso Leonardo Leo in San Vito dei Normanni
is typical of the town's quaint narrow streets
Travel tip:

San Vito dei Normanni, where Leonardo Leo was born, is a town with a population of around 20,000, situated about 24km (15 miles) west of Brindisi in the area of Puglia known as Salento. An attractive town of narrow streets lined with baroque-style churches and palaces and numerous restaurants and bars, it was formerly known as San Vito degli Schiavoni on account of a large number of Slavs - Schiavoni in Italian - who settled in the area after migrating from Dalmatia, on the opposite side of the Adriatic, to escape persecution by the Saracens in the 10th century. The town’s history, though, dates back much further, with archaeological remains discovered that show the area was inhabited during the Bronze Age. Things to see include the medieval Castello di Dentice Frasso, sometimes known as the Castello di San Vito, which overlooks the main piazza, and the beautiful Baroque church of San Giovanni Evangelista, built in soft Lecce stone.

Inside the Church of the Pietà dei Turchini, which dates back to the time of the conservatory
Inside the Church of the Pietà dei Turchini, which
dates back to the time of the conservatory
Travel tip:

Founded in 1583, the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini, where Leonardo Leo was a pupil, was the longest running of four Naples conservatories that were ultimately incorporated into the Real Collegio di Musica, which became the Conservatorio di San Pietro a Majella. Like the Conservatorio di Sant'Onofrio a Capuana, another of the four, it had been a charitable institution for the care of orphans and abandoned children. The church of the Pietà dei Turchini, which was built at around the same time as the conservatory, stands in Via Medina in the centre of Naples, not far from the Teatro di San Carlo opera house.

Also on this day:

1607: The birth of cardinal and arts patron Antonio Barberini

1623: The birth of composer Antonio Cesti

1953: The birth of Felice Casson - politician and magistrate

2002: The death of novelist Franco Lucentini


3 January 2022

Baldassare Galuppi – opera composer

Musician from Burano had a talent for comic opera

Galuppi became a major figure in the evolution of comic opera
Galuppi became a major figure
in the evolution of comic opera
The prolific Venetian composer Baldassare Galuppi, who worked alongside the playwright Carlo Goldoni, died on this day in 1785 in Venice.

At the height of his career, Galuppi achieved international success, working at different times in Vienna, London and Saint Petersburg, but his main base was Venice, where he held a succession of prestigious posts during his life.

Galuppi was born on the island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon and was sometimes referred to as Il Buranello, a signature he used on his music manuscripts. His father was a barber who also played the violin in an orchestra, and is believed to have been his first music teacher.

At the age of 15, Galuppi wrote his first opera, which was performed at Chioggia and Vicenza. He then became harpsichordist at the Teatro della Pergola in Florence.

In the early part of his career, Galuppi was successful in the opera seria genre, but after 1749 many of his operas were comic collaborations with the Venetian dramatist Carlo Goldoni. The most popular of his comic operas was his 1754 composition Il filosofo di campagna – The Country Philosopher.

He was one of the earliest opera composers to use the ensemble finale, in which all the characters appear together in a musical ensemble that carries the action forward to the end of the act. He was regarded as the father of comic opera - opera buffa - by the next generation of composers.

Carlo Goldoni, with whom Galuppi worked successfully
Carlo Goldoni, with whom
Galuppi worked successfully

Galuppi belonged to a group of composers, including Johann Adolph Hasse, Giovanni Battista Sammartini and C P E Bach, whose works all displayed a style of music that developed in Europe after the late Baroque era.

The composer held important positions with charitable and religious organisations in Venice and for these posts he composed a lot of sacred music. His most prestigious appointment was as maestro di cappella at the Doge’s chapel in St Mark’s Basilica. He was also a virtuoso performer and composer of music for keyboard instruments.

In 1741, Galuppi was invited to work in London, where he spent 18 months supervising productions for the Italian opera company at the King’s Theatre. At least four of the operas the company performed had been composed by Galuppi.

On his return to Venice, Galuppi continued to compose for the opera houses, often in partnership with the librettist Pietro Metastasio. He wrote his first comic opera, La forza d’amore in 1745.

He was invited to the court of Maria Theresa in Vienna in 1748, where he composed the music for Metastasio’s libretto Artaserse. He compressed four arias at the end of the first act into a single dramatic ensemble piece, which was seen as a breakthrough that strengthened the relationship of the music to the drama, although Metastasio was reported to have been unimpressed.

The King's Theatre in London's Haymarket, where Galuppi worked for 18 months
The King's Theatre in London's Haymarket,
where Galuppi worked for 18 months
When Galuppi returned to writing comic opera in 1749, he collaborated with Goldoni, who was fortunately happy for his libretti to be subservient to the music. Their joint works became very popular and by the 1750s Galuppi was judged by a music critic to be the most popular composer anywhere.

In 1794, he was summoned to be court composer to Catherine the Great to Saint Petersburg, where he composed both operas and sacred music and gave harpsichord recitals.

On his return to Venice, he continued to be a prolific composer of both operas and sacred music.  His last opera was La serva per amore which premiered in October 1773. In 1782, he conducted concerts to mark the visit to Venice of Pope Pius VI. His last known completed work was the 1784 Christmas mass for St Mark’s.

After Galuppi’s death, his body was buried in the church of San Vitale. The actors from the Teatro San Benedetto sang in a requiem mass for him at the church of Santo Stefano, which was paid for by local professional musicians.

Napoleon’s invasion of Venice in 1795 resulted in Galuppi’s manuscripts being either destroyed, lost or scattered around Europe.

Robert Browning wrote a poem, A Toccata of Galuppi’s, about the composer and his work, but it was not until the end of the 20th century that Galuppi’s compositions were revived in live performances and recordings.

The statue of Galuppi in Piazza Galuppi
The statue of Galuppi
in Piazza Galuppi
Travel tip:

Burano, where Baldassare Galuppi was born, is an island at the northern end of the Venetian lagoon and is known for its lace work and brightly coloured fishermen’s houses. More than 2,700 people live there and virtually all of the island has been built on, with very little green space. The island can be reached in about 45 minutes from St Mark’s Square in Venice by vaporetto. There is a statue of Galuppi in Piazza Galuppi, the main square. Burano’s church of San Martino has a leaning campanile and a painting of the Crucifixion by Giambattista Tiepolo.

Travel tip:

Baldassare Galuppi was buried in the former church of San Vitale (known as San Vidal) in Venice, although there is no gravestone for the composer there. The church has a 29 metre (94 feet) bell tower, or campanile, which was part of the original 1084 design, although it was rebuilt along with the church after a fire in 1105. The church is at one end of the Campo Santo Stefano and is now used as an event and concert hall.

Also on this day:

106BC: The birth of Cicero, Roman politician and philosopher

1698: The birth of poet and librettist Pietro Metastasio

1920: The birth of singer-songwriter Renato Carosone

1929: The birth of film director Sergio Leone

1952: The birth of politician Gianfranco Fini


7 April 2017

Domenico Dragonetti - musician

Venetian was best double bass player in Europe

Domenico Dragonetti: a lithograph from the New York City Public Library collection
Domenico Dragonetti: a lithograph from the
New York City Public Library collection
The composer and musician Domenico Dragonetti  - Europe's finest double bass virtuoso - was born on this day in 1763 in Venice.

Apart from the fame his talent brought him, Dragonetti is remembered as the musician who opened the eyes of Ludwig van Beethoven and other composers to the potential of the double bass.

They met in Vienna in 1799 and experts believe it was Dragonetti’s influence that led Beethoven to include passages for double bass in his Fifth Symphony.

From 1794 onwards until his death in 1846 at the age of 83, Dragonetti lived in London but it was in Venice that he established his reputation.

The son of a barber who was also a musician, Domenico Carlo Maria Dragonetti taught himself to play the guitar and the double bass as a child using his father’s instruments.  It was not long before word of his precocious ability spread and he was sent to the Ducal Palace of San Marco for tuition from Michele Berini, who was widely respected as the best double bass player in Venice.

Berini declared after only 11 lessons that there was nothing more he could teach the young Dragonetti, who at the age of just 13 was appointed principal player in opera buffa, the comic opera genre that was becoming popular in Venice, possibly at Teatro San Moisé, Teatro San Cassiano or Teatro San Samuele.  A year later, he was made principal double bass player in the mainstream, serious opera at Teatro San Benedetto.

Dragonetti with his three- stringed da Salò double bass
Dragonetti with his three-
stringed da Salò double bass
In 1787 he was accepted for the orchestra at the Chapel of San Marco, who valued him so highly they twice increased his annual salary to stop him going to Russia, where the Tsar was keen to recruit him.  Such was his dexterity with the instrument he was given solo pieces to perform, which was highly unusual.

An example of Dragonett's ability to exploit the potential of the instrument came when he was staying at the Monastery of St Giustina in Padua, where he produced a sound that woke the monks in the middle of the night, thinking it was thunder.

In 1794, the Chapel of San Marco agreed that he could accept an invitation to play at the King’s Theatre in London and gave him paid leave for a year.  In the event, he settled in England and never returned for more than brief visits.

He made his debut at the King’s Theatre in December 1794 and within only a few months had become famous. He was able to provide for his extended family in Venice with his earnings, but also invested in art and purchased musical instruments previously owned by Stradivari, Maggini, and Montagnana, which he would later bequeath to members of the orchestra.

He became a prominent figure in the musical events of the English capital, performing at the concerts of the Philharmonic Society of London.  Prominent figures in London society, such as the Prince Consort and the Duke of Leinster, would invite him to play in private concerts. He and his close friend, the cellist Robert Lindley, found themselves in demand across Europe and embarked on many tours.

A bust of Gasparo da Salò, in Salò on the  shores of Lake Garda
A bust of Gasparo da Salò, in Salò on the
shores of Lake Garda
In 1795, on a visit to London, the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn met Dragonetti and they became friends. In turn, Haydn invited Dragonetti to Vienna, where he was introduced to Beethoven. He also became acquainted with Paganini, Spohr, Hummel, Liszt and Rossini. He collaborated with many composers but also wrote several pieces for double bass in his own right.

Dragonetti was unusually tall for an Italian of his era and blessed with formidable strength and stamina, which was one factor that helped him get so much out of the instrument, playing parts that many double bass players would have thought impossible.

His favoured instrument was a massive, three-stringed bass made by the renowned luthier Gasparo da Salò, which he kept all of his life, turning down a number of offers, including one of 20,000 lire.  There are different stories as to how he acquired the instrument. One says he was given it by the Benedictine nuns of St Peter's monastery in Vicenza, where Dragonetti lived while he was paying in the Grand Opera. Another says it was bought from the monks of St Peter's by the Chapel of San Marco and given to Dragonetti as an enticement to stay.

The bow with which he played, which evolved during his career to suit his physical size and style of playing, became known as the Dragonetti bow.

He died at his lodgings in Leicester Square in central London in April 1846. He was buried initially in the vaults of the Roman Catholic Chapel of St Mary, Moorfields. In 1889 his remains were moved to the Roman Catholic cemetery at Wembley.

The Teatro San Benedetto in its heydey
The Teatro San Benedetto in its heydey
Travel tip:

None of the Venice theatres – the San Moisé,  the San Cassiano or the San Samuele – in which Dragonetti might have played in opera buffa exists today. The San Benedetto closed in the early 20th century and was remodelled as a cinema.  Renamed Teatro Rossini in 1868 in honour of the composer Gioachino Rossini, it reopened as the Cinema Rossini in 1937. Nowadays, the building, in Salizzada de la Chiesa o del Teatro, which is between Teatro la Fenice and the Grand Canal in the San Marco district, holds a multi-screen cinema.

Travel tip:

Dragonetti’s prized da Salò double bass is said to have been stored in a room in Venice for 150 years after his death, where it inevitably fell into disrepair. However, the Venice authorities had the good sense to hire the modern-day luthier Sergio Scaramelli to restore the 400-year-old instrument in 2007 and it is now on display in the museum inside the Basilica di San Marco.

Let TripAdvisor advise on Venice hotels

More reading:

Giovanni Battista Pergoloesi - genius of opera buffa

The beautiful music of Antonio Vivaldi

La Fenice opera house destroyed by fire

Also on this day:

1794: The birth of opera singer Gianni Battista Rubini


4 January 2017

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi – composer

Brief career of 'opera buffa' genius

A portrait of Pergolesi presented to the Naples Conservatory by his brother, Florimo
A portrait of Pergolesi presented to the Naples
Conservatory by his brother, Florimo
Opera composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was born on this day in 1710 as Giovanni Battista Draghi, in Jesi, in what is now the province of Ancona.

He later acquired the name Pergolesi, the Italian word for the residents of Pergola in Marche, which had been the birthplace of his ancestors.

Pergolesi was the most important early composer of opera buffa - comic opera. He wrote a two-act buffa intermezzo for one of his serious operas, which later became a popular work in its own right.

He also wrote sacred music and his Stabat Mater, composed in 1736, has been used in the soundtracks of many contemporary films.

Pergolesi received a musical education at the Conservatorio dei Poveri in Naples where he gained a good reputation as a violinist.

Watch a complete performance of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater

In 1732 he was appointed maestro di cappella to the Prince of Stigliano in Naples and produced for him an opera buffa, Lo frate ‘nnammorato, and a sacred work, believed to be his Mass in D, which were both well received.

The following year his serious opera, Il prigionier superbo, was produced but it was the comic intermezzo, La serva padrona, inserted between the acts, that was most popular, revealing his gift for comic characterisation.

A poster advertising a performance of Pergolesi's  intermezzo La Serva Padrona in 1739
A poster advertising a performance of Pergolesi's
 intermezzo La Serva Padrona in 1739
In 1734 Pergolesi went to Rome to direct the performance of his Mass in F.

After that his health began to fail and he went to live in the Franciscan monastery at Pozzuoli, near Naples, where he finished his last work, the celebrated Stabat Mater, which demonstrated his ability to handle large, choral and instrumental forces.

He died in extreme poverty at the age of 26 and was buried in the Cathedral at Pozzuoli.

When Pergolesi died, his fame had scarcely spread beyond Rome and Naples, but later in the century it grew enormously. The success of La serva padrona was mainly posthumous and it reached its peak after it was performed in Paris in 1752.

It led to the so called ‘guerre des bouffons’ - the war of the buffoons - which divided the supporters of serious opera and the supporters of the new Italian comic opera, with Pergolesi held up as a model of the Italian style. Musical forgers produced works claiming to be by Pergolesi, and a number of works originally attributed to him have since been shown to be by other composers.

Jesi's Teatro Pergolesi was named in honour of the composer
Jesi's Teatro Pergolesi was named in honour of the composer
Pergolesi was the subject of a 1932 Italian film, Pergolesi , directed by Guido Brignone with Elio Steiner playing the role of the composer.

His Stabat Mater was used in the films, Farinelli, Jesus of Montreal, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Amadeus, The Mirror, Cactus and a 2016 documentary, Nothing Left Unsaid, which was about Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper.

Pergolesi was honoured in his home town of Jesi in the 19th century when the Teatro della Concordia was renamed Teatro Pergolesi.

Travel tip:

The Conservatorio dei Poveri in Naples, where Pergolesi studied, was founded in 1589 by Marcello Fossataro, a Franciscan monk. It was adjacent to the Baroque Church of Santa Maria della Colonna in Via dei Tribunali. It was converted into a religious educational institution in 1743.

The Baroque church of Santa Maria della Colonna in Naples
The Baroque church of Santa Maria
della Colonna in Naples
Travel tip:

Pozzuoli is a comune of Naples in the region of Campania, lying in the centre of an area of volcanic activity. In the 1980s the city experienced hundreds of tremors and the sea bottom was raised by almost two metres, making the Bay of Pozzuoli too shallow for large craft. After Pergolesi died in poverty in Pozzuoli, his body was placed in an unmarked mass grave in the Cathedral.

More reading:

Why Domenico Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto is regarded as one of the greatest comic operas

The opening of Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 1737

Jacopo Peri - the 'inventor' of the opera

Also on this day:

1975: Death of writer Carlo Levi

(Picture credits: Teatro Pergolesi by Gaspa; church of Santa Maria della Colonna by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta)