Sacchini, Antonio (Maria Gasparo Gioacchino)

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Sacchini, Antonio (Maria Gasparo Gioacchino)

Sacchini, Antonio (Maria Gasparo Gioacchino) , prominent Italian composer; b. Florence, June 14, 1730; d. Paris, Oct. 6, 1786. He entered the Cons. of Santa Maria di Loreto at Naples as a violin pupil of Nicola Fiorenza; also received instruction in singing from Gennaro Manna and in harpsichord, organ, and composition from Francesco Durante. His intermezzo Fra Donato was performed at the Cons. in 1756; his comic opera Olimpia was given at the Teatro dei Fiorentini in 1758, the same year in which he became maestro di cappella straordinario at the Cons.; he was made secondo maestro in 1761. His opera seria, Olimpiade, scored a remarkable success at its Padua premiere on July 9, 1763; it subsequently was performed throughout Italy. During a stay in Rome, he produced several comic operas, including II finto pazzo per amore (1765), La Contadina in corte (1766), and L’isola d’amore (1766). In 1768 he was named director of the Cons. dell’Ospeda-letto in Venice; also made a visit to Germany, where he brought out the operas Scipione in Cartagena (Munich, Jan. 8, 1770), Calliroe (Stuttgart, Feb. 11, 1770), and L’Eroe cinese (Munich, April 27, 1770). In 1772 he went to London, where he acquired a notable reputation; among the operas produced there were Tamerlano (May 6, 1773), Montezuma (Feb. 7, 1775), Erifile (Feb. 7, 1778), L’Amore soldato (May 4, 1778), L’Avaro deluso, o Don Calandrino (Nov. 24, 1778), and Enea e Lavinia (March 25, 1779). In 1781 he received an invitation from Marie Antoinette, through the “intendant des menus-plaisirs,” to go to Paris. His name was already known in France, since his opera L’isola d’amore, arranged as La Colonie (“comic opera imitated from the Italian”), had been produced in Paris on Aug. 16, 1775; upon his arrival he was forthwith commissioned to write 3 works at a fee of 10, 000 francs each. For this purpose he adapted his Italian opera Annida e Rinaldo (Milan, 1772) to a French text as Renaud, “tragédie lyrique” in 3 acts (produced at the Académie Royale de Musique, Feb. 25, 1783), and his opera Il Cidde (Rome, 1764) as Chimène (Fontainebleau, Nov. 18, 1783); the third opera, Dardanus, was a new work; it was staged at the Trianon at Versailles, Sept. 18, 1784, in the presence of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, hi Paris Sacchini found himself in unintended rivalry with Piccinni as a representative of Italian music in the famous artistic war against the proponents of the French operas of Gluck; Sacchini’s most successful opera, however, was to the French text Œdipe à Colonne, first presented at Versailles (Jan. 4, 1786) and produced at the Paris Opéra (Feb. 1, 1787) after Sacchini’s death. It held the stage for half a century, and there were sporadic revivals later on. His last opera, also to a French libretto, Arvire et Evelina, was left unfinished, and was produced posth. (Paris Opéra, April 29, 1788; third act added by J.B. Rey). Sacchini found his métier as a composer of serious operas, but his works were nonetheless typical products of the Italian operatic art of his time, possessing melodious grace but lacking in dramatic development. Among his other compositions were 8 oratorios, masses, mass movements, motets, Psalms, arias, 2 syms. (1767), 6 Trio Sonatas, op.l (London, c. 1775), 6 String Quartets, op.2 (London, 1778), 6 Sonatas for Harpsichord or Piano and Violin, op.3 (London, 1779), and A Second Set of 6 Favorite Lessons for Harpsichord or Piano and Violin, op.3 (London, c. 1780).


U. Prota-Giurleo, S. non nacque a Pozzuoli (Naples, 1952); F. Schlitzer, A. S.: Schede e appunti per una sua storia teatrale (Siena, 1955); U. Prota-Giurleo, S. a Napoli (Naples, 1956); idem, S. fra Piccinisti e Gluckisti (Naples, 1957); E. Thierstein, Five French Operas of S. (diss., Univ. of Cincinnati, 1974).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire