Giovanni Paisiello


Raised in Taranto, he attended the Conservatoire di San Onofrio in Naples from 1754 until 1759. He supported himself as a teacher thereafter, until a work of his, a comic intermezzo, was performed to great acclaim in 1763. A commission from the Marsigli Theatre in Bologna led to his first comic opera, La pupilla, ossia Il mondo alla rovescia the following year. He composed some 50 operas over the next 12 years alone, the majority of which were successful; more so than those rivals such as Cimarosa. In 1776 he was invited to St Petersburg by Empress Catherine II, and he remained there for eight years. While there, he wrote Il Barbieri di Siviglia (1782) – his version of the tale was so popular that even in 1816 there was much opposition to Rossini's reworking, though history has judged Rossini’s more noteworthy.

Returning to Italy, Paisiello served as maestro di cappella to Ferdinand IV of Naples; while there he wrote Nina, o La Pazza per amore (1789), which is still occasionally performed today. Political upheaval meant that in order to maintain the grand salaries provided by Empresses and the like he needed an influential patron; between 1802 and 1803 he was maitre de chappelle to Napoleon. Subsequently he returned to Naples, where he resumed his old position until the year preceding his death. He left over 100 operas, each displaying fresh, innovative melodic ideas and a direct, unconvoluted approach.

Show more