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Cavos, Catterino

Cavos, Catterino

Cavos, Catterino, Italian-Russian composer; b. Venice, Oct. 30, 1775; d. St. Petersburg, May 10, 1840. He studied with Francesco Bianchi. His first work was a patriotic hymn for the Republican Guard, performed at the Teatro La Fenice (Sept. 13, 1797); he then produced a cantata, L’Eroe (1798). That same year he received an invitation to go to Russia as conductor at the Imperial Opera in St. Petersburg. He was already on his way to Russia when his ballet II sotterraneo was presented in Venice (Nov. 16, 1799). He remained in St. Petersburg for the rest of his life. His Russian debut as a composer was in a collaborative opera, Rusalka (adapted from Das Donauweibchen by F. Kauer; Nov. 7, 1803). This was followed by the operas The Invisible Prince (May 17, 1805), The Post of Love (1806), Ilya the Bogatyr (Jan. 12, 1807), 3 Hunchback Brothers (1808), The Cossack Poet (May 27, 1812), and several ballets. His most significant work was Ivan Susanin, which he conducted at the Imperial Theater on Oct. 30, 1815. The subject of this opera was used 20 years later by Glinka in his opera A Life for the Czar; the boldness of Cavos in selecting a libretto from Russian history provided the necessary stimulus for Glinka and other Russian composers. (Cavos conducted the premiere of Glinka’s opera.) His subsequent operas were also based on Russian themes: Dobrynia Nikitich (1818) and The Firebird (1822). Cavos was a notable voice teacher, numbering among his pupils several Russian singers who later became famous.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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