Piccinni, Niccolò

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Piccinni, Niccolò (b Bari, 1728; d Passy, 1800). It. composer. First opera, Le donne dispettose was success in Naples, 1755. His most popular opera buffa, La cecchina, ossia La buona figliuola, 1760, based on Richardson's Pamela, was perf. throughout Europe. Wrote about 100 operas for It. theatres. Second choirmaster, Naples Cath. and taught singing. Most of his operas were perf. in Rome, but he fell out of favour in 1753 when Anfossi came to the fore. In 1776 moved to Paris to write Fr. operas. His first was Roland (1778). This was perf. in the midst of the celebrated Gluck-Piccinni feud, engineered by the composers' supporters. The dir. of the Paris Opéra arranged for each to compose Iphigénie en Tauride. Gluck's version came first, 1779, and eclipsed Piccinni's of 1781. After Gluck left Paris, Sacchini became a rival. Piccinni became a teacher at the École Royale de Chant 1784, but returned to Naples 1791 after outbreak of the Revolution. There he was suspected of political intrigue and lived for 4 years under virtual house arrest. Returned to Paris 1798 but his star had waned. His operas, no rivals to Gluck's, nevertheless have excellent qualities. They incl. Il curioso del suo proprio danno (1756), La Cecchina (1760), L'Olimpiade (1761), Alessandro nelle Indie (1758, rev. 1774), Didon (1783), Pénélope (1785), La serva onorata (1792).