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Spontini, Gaspare (Luigi Pacifico)

Spontini, Gaspare (Luigi Pacifico) (b Majolati, Ancona, 1774; d Majolati, 1851). It. composer. Some church mus. earned him opera commission for Rome, 1796. 5 other operas followed. Went to Paris 1803, meeting with barely moderate success until the triumph of La Vestale in 1807. Became composer to Empress Joséphine 1805, and won favour with Napoléon. Became cond. of It. Opera in Paris 1810, improving standards and giving f. Paris p. of Mozart's Don Giovanni in its orig. form. Dismissed 1812, but reinstated 1814. Cond., Berlin Court Opera 1820. There, too, his tenure was stormy and controversial, partly because his quick temper and pompous manner made him hard to work with, and partly because he continued to promote his own Italianate works in the face of the new enthusiasm for Ger. romantic opera engendered by the success of Weber's Der Freischütz. When his royal patron died in 1840, Spontini was dismissed in 1841 and sentenced to 9 months imprisonment for lèse majesté, but the new king lifted the sentence. Thereafter he lived chiefly in Paris until returning to his native village, to whose poor he left all his property. Operas incl.: Li puntigli delle donne (1796), L'eroismo ridicolo (1798), Il finto pittore (1800), La fuga in maschera (1800), La finta filosofa (1799), Milton (1804), La Vestale (1807), Fernand Cortez (1809), Olympie (1819), Nurmahal (1822), Alcidor (1825), Agnes von Hohenstaufen (1829). Fest. pageant: Lalla Rookh (1821). Most of Spontini's operas were rev. several times. Some have been perf. in It. since 1945 and La Vestale was also revived at Wexford, 1979.

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Spontini, Gaspare

Gaspare Spontini (gäs´pärā spōntē´nē), 1774–1851, Italian opera composer. Spontini studied music in Naples. He went to Paris in 1803, won a prize from Napoleon for La Vestale (1807), and became court composer under Louis XVIII. In 1819 he was a leading musician at the court of Frederick William III of Prussia. Besides La Vestale, on which he worked for three years, Spontini had great successes with Fernand Cortez (1809), Olympie (1819, revised several times), and Nurmahal (1822). The pageantry and rich orchestration of his operas were greatly admired. In 1810, Spontini staged the first Paris performance of Don Giovanni in its original form.

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