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Domenico Cimarosa

1749 - 1801

Domenico Cimarosa (17 December 1749, Aversa, Kingdom of Naples, now Province of Caserta – 11 January 1801, Venice) was an Italian opera composer of the Neapolitan school. He wrote more than eighty operas during his lifetime, including his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto (1792). Cimarosa also wrote numerous instrumental works, both secular and religious in nature.

Key Works

Domenico Cimarosa (Italian: [doˈmeːniko tʃimaˈrɔːza] (About this sound listen); 17 December 1749, Aversa, Kingdom of Naples, now Province of Caserta – 11 January 1801, Venice) was an Italian opera composer of the Neapolitan school. He wrote more than eighty operas during his lifetime, including his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto (1792). Cimarosa also wrote numerous instrumental works, both secular and religious in nature.

Early life and education
Cimarosa was born in Aversa in Campania.

His parents were poor, but, anxious to give their son a good education, they sent him to a free school connected with one of the monasteries in Naples after moving to that city. The organist of the monastery, Padre Polcano, was struck by the boy's intellect, and instructed him in the elements of music and also in the ancient and modern literature of his country. Because of his influence, Cimarosa obtained a scholarship at the musical institute of Santa Maria di Loreto in Naples, where he remained for eleven years, chiefly studying with great masters of the old Italian school; Niccolò Piccinni, Antonio Sacchini, and other musicians of repute are mentioned among his teachers.

Early career
At the age of twenty-three, Cimarosa began his career as a composer with an opera buffa called Le stravaganze del conte, first performed at the Teatro del Fiorentini at Naples in 1772. The work met with approval, and was followed in the same year by Le pazzie di Stelladaura e di Zoroastro, a farce full of humour and eccentricity. This work was also successful, and the fame of the young composer began to spread all over Italy. In 1774, he was invited to Rome to write an opera for the stagione of that year; and there he produced another comic opera called L'italiana in Londra.


Over the next thirteen years, Cimarosa wrote a number of operas for the various theatres of Italy, living temporarily in Rome, in Naples, or wherever else his vocation as conductor of his works happened to take him. From 1784 to 1787, he lived in Florence, writing exclusively for the theatre of that city. The productions of this period of his life are very numerous, consisting of operas (both comic and serious), cantatas, and various sacred compositions. The following works may be mentioned, among many others: Cajo Mario; the three Biblical operas, Assalone, La giuditta, and Il sacrificio d'Abramo; Il convito di pietra; and La ballerina amante, a comic opera first performed at Venice with enormous success.


In 1787, Cimarosa went to St. Petersburg by invitation of Empress Catherine II. He remained at her court for four years and wrote an enormous number of compositions, mostly of the nature of pièces d'occasion; of most of these, not even the names are on record. One important exception was a Requiem, entitled Messa da Requiem in G minor. The piece, composed in 1787, was commissioned to mark the death of the wife of the French ambassador in St. Petersburg. In 1792, Cimarosa left St. Petersburg and went to Vienna at the invitation of Emperor Leopold II. Here, he produced his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto, which ranks among the greatest examples of opera buffa (Verdi considered it the model opera buffa). In 1793, Cimarosa returned to Naples, where Il matrimonio segreto and other works were received with great acclaim. Among the works belonging to his last stay in Naples that may be mentioned is the charming opera, Le astuzie femminili.

This period of his life is said to have been embittered by the intrigues of envious and hostile persons, including his old rival, Giovanni Paisiello. During the occupation of Naples by the troops of the French Republic, Cimarosa joined the liberal party, but on the return of the Bourbons was imprisoned along with many of his political friends (some say even condemned to death). His sentence was commuted to banishment when influential admirers interceded, and he left Naples with the intention of returning to St. Petersburg, but his health was broken and after much suffering he died in Venice on 11 January 1801 of an intestinal inflammation. The nature of his disease led to the rumor of his having been poisoned by his enemies; however, a formal inquest proved this to be unfounded. He worked until the last moment of his life, and one of his operas, Artemisia, remained unfinished at his death. The place of his death is marked by a memorial in Campo San Angelo near the calle de Caffetier.

Main works
Studio Lirico, a summer program for opera singers patronized by University of South Carolina, produced, from 1992 to 1995, a lot of Cimarosa's operas (sometime in first production in modern time) by the artistic direction of Talmage Fauntleroy, stage director, and Nick Rossi, musicologist. In Italy, since 2005 the Tuscan Opera Academy “Domenico Cimarosa” has realized a summer program dedicated to Cimarosa's operas through the artistic and musical direction of Simone Perugini, composer, conductor, musicologist and Italian scholar of Cimarosa. Tuscan Opera Academy “Domenico Cimarosa” realizes two projects about the composer: the first one, called Centro cimarosiano di Studi for the publication of the opera omnia of the composer in critical edition (full score, vocal score and orchestral parts with commentary Foreword), the second one called The Opera Workshop for the production and set-up of composer's operas in critical editions by opera singers and instrumentalists expert on philological practice of 18th-century Italian music. Some arias from his operas were collected by Italian nobles in manuscript form: the Venturi Music Collection, owned by Italian noble family Sermolli, has some of this arias.

32 Piano Sonatas

First Note
00:00  Sonata No. 1 : Allegro giusto
02:36  Sonata No. 2 : Andantino
04:20  Sonata No. 3 : Allegro
04:48  Sonata No. 4 : Allegro
07:02  Sonata No. 5 : Andantino
08:16  Sonata No. 6 : Andantino
10:37  Sonata No. 7 : Allegro
11:47  Sonata No. 8 : Allegro
13:28  Sonata No. 9 : Andante
14:31  Sonata No. 10 : Maestoso

Second Note
16:36  Sonata No. 11 : Allegro
18:00  Sonata No. 12 : Allegro
19:23  Sonata No. 13 : Andantino
22:04  Sonata No. 14 : Allegro
22:43  Sonata No. 15 : Allegro
24:04  Sonata No. 16 : Andantino grazioso
25:26  Sonata No. 17 : Allegro alla francese
27:24  Sonata No. 18 : Allegro
29:18  Sonata No. 19 : Allegro (Tempo di giga)
30:10  Sonata No. 20 : Andantino - Allegro assai

Third Note
33:00  Sonata No. 21 : Allegro
36:46  Sonata No. 22 : Andante
39:21  Sonata No. 23 : Largo (Siciliana)
41:10  Sonata No. 24 : Allegro
42:33  Sonata No. 25 : Allegro
45:45  Sonata No. 26 : Largo
48:28  Sonata No. 27 : Allegro
50:02  Sonata No. 28 : Vivacissimo (Perfidia)
52:59  Sonata No. 29 : Larghetto
55:03  Sonata No. 30 : Allegro
58:25  Sonata No. 31 : Allegro
59:51  Sonata No. 32 : Allegro (Gigue)

Domenico Cimarosa, one of the principal Italian composers of comic operas.

He was born of a poor family, and his parents, anxious to give him a good education, moved to Naples, where they sent him to a free school. Beginning in 1761 he studied for 11 years at the conservatory of Sta. Maria di Loreto.

He began his career with the comic opera Le Stravaganze del conte, performed at the Teatro de’ Fiorentini at Naples in 1772. Its success was followed by that of L’Italiana in Londra (Rome, 1778), a work still performed in Italy. From 1784 to 1787 Cimarosa lived in various Italian cities, composing both serious and comic operas that were produced in Rome, Naples, Florence, Vicenza, Milan, and Turin. In 1787, at the invitation of Catherine II, he went to St. Petersburg as court musician, replacing Giovanni Paisiello. He produced two operas in St. Petersburg in 1788 and 1789 and in 1791 proceeded to Vienna at the invitation of Leopold II. There, at the Burgtheater on Feb. 7, 1792, he produced his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto (The Secret Marriage), one of the highest achievements in comic opera and the work upon which his reputation rests. In 1793 he returned to Italy, where Il matrimonio segreto and many others of his works were enthusiastically received. New works of this period included Le astuzie femminili (Naples, 1794) and his tragic masterpiece, Gli orazi e i curiazi (Venice, 1796).

He lived mainly in Naples, and during its occupation by the French Republican troops in 1799, Cimarosa openly showed his republican sympathies, so that on the return of the Bourbons he was imprisoned. After being released, he left Naples in broken health. His death from an intestinal disorder led to the rumour of his having been poisoned by his enemies; a formal inquest proved the charge to be unfounded.

Cimarosa was a prolific composer whose music abounds in fresh and never-failing melody. His numerous operas are remarkable for their apt characterizations and abundant comic life. He wrote many choral works, including the cantata Il maestro di cappella, a popular satire on contemporary operatic rehearsal methods. Among his instrumental works, which, like his operas, have been successfully revived, are many sparkling harpsichord sonatas and a concerto for two flutes.

Keyboard Sonatas

Requiem per soli, coro, 2 corni, archi e basso continuo in sol minore (1787)

Oboe Concerto in C major

1. Introduzione
2. Allegro
3. Siciliana
4. Allegro Giusto

Concerto for Flute and Oboe  in C major

Missa pro Defunctis (1787)

Il matrimonio segreto (1792) 

Sestetto per fortepiano, arpa, violino, viola da gamba, violoncello e fagotto

Concerti, Sestetti e Quartetti - L'Arte dell'Arco

00:00:00  01 Sonata in F major, C. 84
00:01:42  02 Sonata in F major, C. 71
00:06:20  03 Sonata in A minor, C. 55
00:08:26  04 Sonata in A major, C. 3
00:10:14  05. Sonata in A minor, C.58
00:11:36  06. Sonata in D minor, C.79
00:14:49  07. Sonata in B flat major, C.1
00:16:29  08. Sonata in B flat major, C.78
00:20:20  09. Sonata in G minor, C.61
00:23:58  10. Sonata in G major, C.15
00:24:41  11. Sonata in D major, C.30
00:26:20  12. Sonata in D minor, C.17
00:27:50  13. Sonata in C minor, C.68
00:28:41  14. Sonata in E flat major, C.44
00:30:11  15. Sonata in C minor, C.66
00:31:26  16. Sonata in E flat major, C.67
00:33:11  17. Sonata in B flat major, C.69
00:35:06  18. Sonata in G minor, C.52
00:37:26  19. Sonata in G major, C.32
00:38:18  20. Sonata in G major, C.82
00:40:07  21. Sonata in D major, C.76
00:42:02  22. Sonata in D minor, C.9
00:44:22  23. Sonata in B flat major, C.80
00:46:47  24. Sonata in C minor, C.49
00:49:32  25. Sonata in E flat major, C.37
00:51:06  26. Sonata in A minor, C.36
00:51:57  27. Sonata in A major, C.11
00:53:14  28. Sonata in A minor, C.2
00:54:36  29. Sonata in B flat major, C.27
00:56:14  30. Sonata in E flat major, C.74
00:59:10  31. Sonata in D major, C.13
00:59:51  32. Sonata in A major, C.87

0:00 - I. Introitus
6:50 - II. Kyrie
9:43 - III. Graduale
11:55 - IV. Sequentia
43:04 - V. Offertorium
48:46 - VI. Sanctus
51:35 - VII. Benedictus
53:59 - VIII. Agnus Dei


Harpsichord Concerto in B flat major 
Concerto for 2 flutes & orchestra in G major 20:34
Quartet for flute, violin, viola & cello No. 1 in D major 37:54
Quartet for flute, violin, viola & cello No. 3 in D major: Allegro 50:48
Quartet for flute, violin, viola & cello No. 5 in D major 1:03:06
Sextet for keyboard, 2 violins, viola, cello & bassoon in G major 1:11:02
Sestetto for keyboard, harp, violin, viola da gamba, cello & bassoon in F major 1:27:47
Quartet No. 2 for Oboe & Strings in G major 1:48:37

L'Olimpiade (1782)


L'Olimpiade, dramma per musica in two acts, first performance 10 July 1784, Teatro Eretenio, Vincenzo.

Libretto: Pietro Metastasio

La Cleopatra 1-2

La Cleopatra  2-2

Il sacrifizio di Abramo

Chi dell'altrui si veste presto si spoglia - (1783)

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