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Porpora, Nicola Antonio


Baroque opera and church composer of the Neapolitan school; b. Naples, Aug. 17, 1686; d. Naples, March 3, 1768. He began his music studies in Naples at ten and staged the first of his 44 operas there in 1708. After an interval (171125) as Kapellmeister to Landgrave Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, he was invited in 1733 to direct the Opera of the Nobility set up in London to rival handel's company. The venture failed, and he left after three years. A renowned teacher, he gave lessons in Dresden (1747) and in Vienna (1751), where Franz Joseph haydn was his student and protégé. Intermittently he held also teaching posts at conservatories in Venice and in Naples, where he lived after 1758. Besides his operas and some 11 oratorios, he composed many Masses and motets, most of them in the operatic style of the day. In both operatic and sacred forms his melodies reveal an elegance of line not usually found in the music of his contemporaries.

Bibliography: f. walker, "A Chronology of the Life and Works of Nicola Porpora," Italian Studies 6 (1951). a. mondolfi, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949) 10:145358. w. m. hienz, jr., "The Choral Psalms of Nicola Porpora" (D.M.A. diss. University of Illinois, 1980). d.e. monson, "Nicola Antonio Porpora" in International Dictionary of Opera 2 vols., ed. c. s. larue (Detroit 1993) 10361039. d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge 1996) 702703. m. f. robinson, "Nicola (Antonio) Porpora" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 15 ed. s. sadie (New York 1980) 123127. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Eighth Edition (New York 1992) 1431. e. l. sutton, "The Solo Vocal Works of Nicola Porpora: An Annotated Thematic Catalogue" (Ph.D. diss. University of Minnesota, 1974).

[w. c. holmes]

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