Sacchini, Antonio Maria Gasparo



Noted Italian composer of the Neapolitan School, whose works are marked by much power and originality, and who was looked upon in Paris as the successor of Piccini. He was the son of a fisherman, and while singing in church was heard by Durante, who had him admitted to the Conservatory of St. Onofrio at Naples, where he studied the violin with Fiorenza, voice with Manna and harpsichord, organ and composition with Durante. His first work was an intermezzo, Fra Donate, written in the Neapolitan dialect, and produced at the Conservatory Theatre, Naples, in 1756, when the composer was less than twenty years of age. It had a great success, and was followed by several longer operas in Neapolitan dialect. In 1762 he went to Rome and supported himself there for some time by teaching. After the appearance of his opera, Semiramide, he became so popular that he remained at Rome for four years, writing in competition with Piccini. The success of Sacchini's Alessandro nell' Indie at Naples led  to  his appointment as director of singing in a Conservatory at Venice in 1768. In 1771, having fifty dramatic works to his credit, Sacchini went to Munich and Stuttgart, producing two operas in the latter city, and then went to London, where he resided ten years as a successful composer of operas and other works. In London he contracted so many debts that he was obliged to flee to Paris to escape his creditors. In that city he wrote Armida e Rinaldo, which was produced with success; II gran Cid, renamed Chimene, received with marked favor; and the opera, Olympiade, which was to have been heard at the Academy but which was deprived of a hearing through the jealousy of Gluck, who, on being told that the opera was in rehearsal, hurried to Pans and used his influence to have it withdrawn. Later, when the opera was produced at the Comedie Italienne with the greatest success, Gluck and his partisans stopped the performances by enforcing one of the privileges of the Academy, which made it illegal for any other theatre to perform operas with choruses or with more than seven singers on the stage. Sacchini's   next works were Dardanus, and CEdipe a Colone. The last named is considered his masterpiece, and remained popular in France for many years after the composer's death. Sacchini began another opera for Paris, but left it unfinished. Rey added tne third act, and it was produced and well received. He also wrote six oratorios; masses, and other church-music; two symphonies; chamber-music, including six string quartets, and six trios for two violins and cello; two sonatas for harpsichord; violin sonata; and other works. He was also successful as a teacher. Sacchini's merits were great, but his importance at the present time is historical only. Much of his music is lost, although he is believed to have written forty-one operas.