Traetta, Tommaso (Michele Francesco Saverio)

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Traetta, Tommaso (Michele Francesco Saverio)

Traetta, Tommaso (Michele Francesco Saverio), esteemed Italian composer, father of Filippo Traetta; b. Bitonto, near Bari, March 30, 1727; d. Venice, April 6, 1779. He entered the Cons. di S. Maria di Loreto in Naples at the age of 11, where he studied with Porpora and Durante. After leaving the Cons. in 1748, he wrote his first known opera, II Farnace, which was produced at the Teatro San Carlo with fine success, on Nov. 4, 1751; there followed several more operas in Naples, and later in other Italian cities. In 1758 he was appointed maestro di cappella to the Duke of Parma. His Armida was staged in Vienna (Jan. 3, 1761) with excellent success, and he was commissioned to write another opera for Vienna, Ifigenia in Tauride, which was produced there on Oct. 4, 1763. He settled in Venice in 1765, and was director of the Cons. deirOspedaletto S. Giovanni for 3 years. In 1768 he was engaged for the court of Catherine the Great as successor to Galuppi, and arrived in St. Petersburg in the autumn of that year. He staged several of his operas there (mostly versions of works previously performed in Italy); also arranged music for various occasions (anniversary of the coronation of Catherine the Great, celebration of a victory over the Turkish fleet, etc.). He left Russia in 1775 and went to London, where he produced the opera Germondo (Jan. 21, 1776), without much success. By 1777 he had returned to Venice, where he produced his last 2 operas, La disfatta di Dario (Feb. 1778) and Gli eroi dei campi Elisi (Carnival 1779). In many respects, Traetta was an admirable composer, possessing a sense of drama and a fine melodic gift. In musical realism, he adopted certain procedures that Gluck was to employ successfully later on; he was highly regarded by his contemporaries. Besides operas, he wrote an oratorio, Rex Salomone (Venice, 1766), a Stabat Mater and other church music, 3 sinfonie, an overture, etc.

Bibliography

V. Capruzzi, T. e la musica (Naples, 1873); A. Nuovo, T. T. (Rome, 1922); F. Schlitzer, ed., T. T., Leonardo Leo, Vincenzo Bellini: Notizie e documenti, Chigiana, IX (1952); E. Saracino, T. T.: Cenni biografico-artistici (Bitonto, 1954); F. Casavola, T. T di Bitonto (1727-1779): La vita e le opere (Bari, 1957); D. Binetti, T Te F. Trajetta nella vita e nell’arte (1972); J. Riedlbauer, Die Opern von T. T.(Hildesheim, 1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire