Provenzale, Francesco , noted Italian composer and teacher; b. Naples, c. 1626; d. there, Sept. 6, 1704. By the early 1650s he was active as a composer of operas in Naples, and thus became the first major figure of the so-called Neapolitan school. In 1663 he began teaching at the Cons. S. Maria di Loreto; that same year was made its chief maestro, a position he retained until 1675. He then was director of the music staff at the cons. of S. Maria della Pietà dei Turchini from 1675 to 1701. He also served as maestro di cappella to the city of Naples from 1665; held a similar post to the treasury of S. Gennaro from 1686 to 1699. In 1680 he was named maestro onorario, without pay, to the viceregal court under its maestro di cappella P.A., Ziani. After Ziani’s death in 1684, A. Scarlatti was named his successor, and Provenzale resigned in protest at being passed over by the court authorities. He returned briefly to court service in 1688 as maestro di cappella di camera. Finally, in 1690, he was renamed maestro onorario with a salary of 19 ducats a month.
DRAMATIC: Opera: II Ciro (Naples, 1653); II Theseo, o vero L’incostanza trionfante (Naples, 1658); II Schiavo di sua moglie (Naples, 1671); La colomba ferita, sacred opera (Naples, Sept. 18, 1672); La Fenice d’Avila Teresa di Giesù, sacred opera (Naples, Nov. 6, 1672); La Stellidaura vendicata (Naples, Sept. 2, 1674; also known as Difendere l’offensore, ovvero La Stellidaura vendicata). The opera II martirio di S. Gennaro (Naples, Nov. 6, 1664) may be by Provenzale. The operas Xerse (Naples, 1655?) and Artemisia (Naples, 1657?), often listed as original works by Provenzale, may be adaptations by Cavalli. VOCAL: Cantatas; motets; other works.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire