Gaspare Spontini

Last updated
Gaspare Spontini.jpg
Spontini, after Nicolas-Eustache Maurin
Spontini signature from Olympie Overture ms page - Internet Archive.jpg
Spontini's signature

Gaspare Luigi Pacifico Spontini (14 November 1774 24 January 1851) was an Italian opera composer and conductor.

Contents

Biography

Born in Maiolati, Papal State (now Maiolati Spontini, Province of Ancona), he spent most of his career in Paris and Berlin, but returned to his place of birth at the end of his life. During the first two decades of the 19th century, Spontini was an important figure in French opera . In his more than twenty operas, Spontini strove to adapt Gluck's classical tragédie lyrique to the contemporary taste for melodrama, for grander spectacle (in Fernand Cortez for example), for enriched orchestral timbre, and for melodic invention allied to idiomatic expressiveness of words.

As a youth, Spontini studied at the Conservatorio della Pietà de' Turchini, one of four active music conservatories of Naples. Working his way from Italian city to city, he got his first break in Rome, with his successful comedy Li puntigli delle donne (Carnival 1793). In 1803, he went to Paris, where, on 11 February 1804, debuted his comic opera La finta filosofa, his Neapolitan success of 1799. In part on the recommendation of the comte de Rémusat and his literary countess, a dame du palais, Spontini circulated in the Imperial court, was made a member of the Académie Impériale de Musique and gained a court position as compositeur particulier de la chambre of the Empress in 1805.

Though Spontini's earlier successes were comedies, with the encouragement of Empress Joséphine in 1807, Spontini wrote his greatest success, the tragédie lyrique La vestale , which has remained his best known work. [1] Its premiere at the Opéra in Paris established Spontini as one of the greatest Italian composers of his age. His contemporaries Cherubini and Meyerbeer considered it a masterpiece, and later composers such as Berlioz and Wagner admired it.

During the Peninsular War, Napoleon promoted works such as Gasparo Spontini's Fernand Cortez (1809), which concerned the Spanish conquest of Mexico under the reign of Charles V. [2] In 1811, Spontini married Celeste Érard, the niece of the Parisian maker of pianos and harps Sébastien Érard; it was a happy marriage, though childless. [3] He was made a chevalier of Napoleon's Legion of Honor; its Maltese cross hangs round his neck in the portrait by Nicolas-Eustache Maurin (illustration).

Under the changed political climate of the Bourbon Restoration, Spontini, closely identified with the former Empire, saw his opera Olimpie (1819, revised 1821, 1826) meet with indifference, leading him to leave Paris for Berlin, where his operas had already achieved success. There he became Kapellmeister and chief conductor at the Königliches Opernhaus, and in this period he composed the Prussian National Anthem "Borussia". There he also met the young Mendelssohn, but deprecated the 17-year old's opera Die Hochzeit des Camacho . [4]

In 1842, a disillusioned Spontini, chagrined at the success of Giacomo Meyerbeer and others in Germany, returned to Italy, where he died in 1851. [5]

Bibliography (French) Gaspare Spontini by Patrick Barbier, bleu nuit éditeur, 2017, 176 p. ( ISBN   978-2-3588-4067-5)

Compositions

For the opera

Other compositions

Modern revivals

During the 20th century, Spontini's operas were only rarely performed, although several had their first revivals in years. Perhaps the most famous modern production was the revival of La vestale with Maria Callas at La Scala at the opening of the 1954 season, to mark the 180th anniversary of the composer's birth. The stage director was famed cinema director Luchino Visconti. That production was also the La Scala debut of tenor Franco Corelli. Callas recorded the arias "Tu che invoco" and "O Nume tutelar" from La vestale in 1955 (as did Rosa Ponselle in 1926). In 1969, conductor Fernando Previtali revived the opera, with soprano Leyla Gencer and baritone Renato Bruson. (An unofficial recording is in circulation.) In 1993, conductor Riccardo Muti recorded it in the original French language with Karen Huffstodt, Denyce Graves, Anthony Michaels-Moore and Dimitri Kavrakos.

Other revivals of Spontini include Agnes von Hohenstaufen in Italian as Agnese di Hohenstaufen at the Maggio Musicale festival in Florence in 1954, starring Franco Corelli and conducted by Vittorio Gui, and in Rome in 1970, with Montserrat Caballé and Antonietta Stella, conducted by Riccardo Muti, both recorded live. Fernand Cortez was revived in 1951, with a young Renata Tebaldi, at the San Carlo in Naples, conducted by Gabriele Santini. The premiere of the integral version of the work took place at the Erfurt (Germany) opera house (2006, Jean-Paul Penin, conductor).

Li puntigli delle donne was performed at the Putbus Festival 1998, conducted by Wilhelm Keitel (recording Arte Nova 74321591982).

Related Research Articles

This article is about music-related events in 1823.

<i>La vestale</i> (Spontini) opera by Gaspare Spontini

La vestale is an opera composed by Gaspare Spontini to a French libretto by Étienne de Jouy. It takes the form of a tragédie lyrique in three acts. It was first performed on 15 December 1807 by the Académie Impériale de Musique at the Salle Montansier and is regarded as Spontini's masterpiece. The musical style shows the influence of Gluck and looks forwards to the works of Berlioz, Wagner, and French Grand Opera.

Victor-Joseph Étienne de Jouy French writer

Victor-Joseph Étienne, called de Jouy, French dramatist, who abandoned an early military career for a successful literary one.

Grand opera opera genre

Grand opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterized by large-scale casts and orchestras, and lavish and spectacular design and stage effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events. The term is particularly applied to certain productions of the Paris Opéra from the late 1820s to around 1850; 'grand opéra' has sometimes been used to denote the Paris Opéra itself.

François Habeneck French violinist and conductor

François Antoine Habeneck was a French classical violinist and conductor.

Vittorio Gui Italian conductor, and composer

Vittorio Gui was an Italian conductor, composer, musicologist and critic.

Alexandrine-Caroline Branchu French opera soprano

Thimoléone-Rose-Caroline Chevalier Lavit, known by her married name as Alexandrine-Caroline (or Caroline or simply Mme) Branchu was a French opera soprano of mixed race who was born in Cap-Français, Saint-Domingue the former French colony which is the modern-day Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. A gifted vocalist, for the better part of the first quarter of the 19th century, she was a leading soprano at the Paris Opéra.

French opera Opera in the French tradition

French opera is one of Europe's most important operatic traditions, containing works by composers of the stature of Rameau, Berlioz, Gounod, Bizet, Massenet, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc and Messiaen. Many foreign-born composers have played a part in the French tradition as well, including Lully, Gluck, Salieri, Cherubini, Spontini, Meyerbeer, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi and Offenbach.

<i>Les Danaïdes</i> opera by Antonio Salieri

Les Danaïdes is an opera by Antonio Salieri, in five acts: more specifically, it is a tragédie lyrique. The opera was set to a libretto by François-Louis Gand Le Bland Du Roullet and Louis-Théodore de Tschudi, who in turn adapted the work of Ranieri de' Calzabigi. Calzabigi originally wrote the libretto of Les Danaïdes for Christoph Willibald Gluck, but the aged composer, who had just experienced a stroke, was unable to meet the Opéra's schedule and so asked Salieri to take it over. The plot of the opera is based on Greek tragedy and revolves around the deeds of the mythological characters Danaus and Hypermnestra.

<i>Fernand Cortez</i> opera by Gaspare Spontini

Fernand Cortez, ou La conquête du Mexique is an opera in three acts by Gaspare Spontini with a French libretto by Etienne de Jouy and Joseph-Alphonse Esménard. It was first performed on 28 November 1809 by the Académie Impériale de Musique at the Salle Montansier.

<i>Olimpie</i> opera by Gaspare Spontini

Olimpie is an opera in three acts by Gaspare Spontini. The French libretto, by Armand-Michel Dieulafoy and Charles Brifaut, is based on the play of the same name by Voltaire (1761). Olimpie was first performed on 22 December 1819 by the Paris Opéra at the Salle Montansier. When sung in Italian or German, it is usually given the title Olimpia.

Maria Dragoni Italian operatic soprano

Maria Dragoni is an Italian operatic soprano active international career in major opera house from 1984 to present.

The Pergolesi Spontini Foundation was established in Jesi in 2000, by the Marche Region, the Province of Ancona, the Municipality of Jesi and the Municipality of Maiolati Spontini. The municipalities of Montecarotto, Monte San Vito, Monsano, San Marcello are associated members. The Chamber of Commerce of Ancona entered as Contributing Participant. A group of private companies supports the Foundation.

<i>La mort dAbel</i> opera by Rodolph Kreutzer

La mort d'Abel is an opera by the French composer Rodolphe Kreutzer. The libretto, by François-Benoît Hoffman, deals with the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. It was first performed in a three-act version at the Salle Montansier by the Académie Impériale de Musique on 23 March 1810 under the title Abel. A revival at the Salle Le Peletier in 1823, in which the second act was cut, impressed the young Hector Berlioz.

Henri-Étienne Dérivis French opera singer

Henri-Étienne Dérivis was a French operatic bass. For 25 years he was a leading singer at the Paris Opéra where he made his debut in 1803. He was born in Albi and died in Livry-Gargan at the age of 75.

Louis Nourrit French operatic tenor

Louis Nourrit was an early 19th-century French tenor.

La fuga in maschera is a comic opera by Gaspare Spontini premiered in the Carnival season in Naples in 1800 at the Teatro Nuovo. The work was thought lost but found in 2007 and given its modern premiere at Jesi’s Teatro Pergolesi in 2012. The opera is scored for 2 oboes, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, strings and basso continuo.

Augustine Albert French soprano opera singer, active at the Paris Opera from 1806 to 1823

Augustine Albert, also known as Augustine Albert-Himm was a French opera singer who sang leading soprano roles at the Paris Opéra from 1806 to 1823. Amongst the many roles she created in their world premieres was the title role of Spontini's Olimpie. Born in Paris and trained at the Conservatoire de Paris, she was also a principal singer of the Chapelle royale until 1830. She was married to Albert, danseur noble of the Paris Opéra.

References

  1. Gerhard (n. d) §2
  2. Silke, p. 22.
  3. Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini: Gaspare Spontini Archived 2014-12-01 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Todd (2003), pp. 167-168.
  5. Gerhard (n. d) §4
  6. (in Dutch) "Unieke partituren van Spontini ontdekt in het kasteel van Hingene". VRT, 27 June 2016

Sources