Antonio Sacchini

Sacchini.jpg

Antonio Maria Gasparo Gioacchino Sacchini

Born: Florence, Italy, 14 June 1730

Died: Paris, France, 6 October 1786


The son of a poor fisherman with a large family, Sacchini was discovered by the composer Francesco Durante, who suspected a great career for the lad, and made him enter the conservatory of Santa Maria di Loreto, in  Naples.

He learned violin with Fiorenza, singing with Manna, and composition with Durante, who taught Piccinni and Guglielmi at the same time.

The master died in 1735; the following year, Sacchini’s first dramatic work was performed at the conservatory: the intermezzo Fra Donato.

Then he worked for the little theatres of Naples.  A Semiramide, played at the Teatro Argentina in Rome, was so successful that Sacchini settled in that city.  After having given Alessandro nell’Indie, in Venice in 1768, with great success, he was appointed director of the city’s Ospedaletto (Conservatory of Young Girls).

Sacchini left Italy at the end of 1771; he travelled to Germany, visited Munich and Stuttgart, then went to London.  He stayed there for ten years, obtaining much success (with Il grand Cid, Tamerlano, Lucio Vero, Niteli, and Perseo) – and many debts.

It was then that he came to Paris.  Framery had presented his Colonie (1775and Olimpiade (2 October 1772) at the Comédie-Italien, and the Amore soldato at the Opéra (July 1779).  Sacchini finally decided to come to the continent, at Marie Antoinette’s request.  He was received at court on 1 August 1781.

Two years later, on February 28, he gave Renaud, which obtained, until 1799, 156 performances; then Chimène ou le Cid, which reached its fiftieth only in 1790 (Fontainebleau, 18 November 1783, and Paris, 9 February 1784).  These two works were adaptations – parodies, as they were then called – of earlier Italian works.

Dardanus, an entirely new work, had less success (41 performances from 30 November 1784 to the end of 1800), and had only six performances in its first run.  Its performance at Fontainebleau, in October 1785, led to its revival at the Opéra.

Sacchini, still in poverty (the Opéra did not regularly pay his pension of 1000 livres) was already working on the booklet of Œdipe à Colone, recently crowned in the lyric poems contest by the king’s council on 3 January 1784.

Represented at Versailles, 4 January 1786, Œdipe was given at the Opéra on 1 February 1787.  Sacchini had died in the meantime, on 8 October, at the Hôtel de Russie, held by his compatriot Soldato.  He left nothing to his family, including his sister, a very unhappy mother of 22 children.

Œdipe, rehearsed 31 January 1787, was played the next day.  This work, Sacchini’s masterpiece, remained constantly in the repertoire until 1827, then reappeared there again until 1844, at rare intervals, giving a total of 583 performances, the highest of all the old repertoire.

A posthumous work, Arvire et Evelina, completed by his friend J.-B. Rey, was given on 29 April 1788, and had 101 performances.


Operas

Italian period

  1. Fra Donato (1756)
  2. Il giocatore (1757)
  3. Olimpia tradita (1758)
  4. Il copista burlato (1759)
  5. La vendemmia (1760)
  6. Il testaccio (1760)
  7. I due fratelli beffati (1760)
  8. Andromaca (1761)
  9. La finta contessa (1761)
  10. Li due bari (1762)
  11. L’amore in campo (1762)
  12. Alessandro Severo (1763)
  13. Alessandro nell’Indie (1763)
  14. Olimpiade (1763)
  15. Semiramide riconosciuta (1764)
  16. Eumene (1764)
  17. Lucio Vero (1764)
  18. Il finto pazzo per amore (1765)
  19. Creso (1765)
  20. La contadina in corte (1765)
  21. L’isola d’amore (1766)
  22. Le contadine bizzarre (1766)
  23. Artaserse (1768)
  24. Il Cidde (1769)
  25. Nicoreste (1769)
  26. Scipione in Cartagena (1770)
  27. Calliroe (1770)
  28. L’eroe cinese (1770)
  29. Adriano in Siria (1770)
  30. Ezio (1771)
  31. Armida (1772)
  32. Vologeso (1772)

English period

  1. Il Cid (1773)
  2. Tamerlano (1773)
  3. Perseo (1774)
  4. Nitteti (1774)
  5. Montezuma (1775)
  6. Didone abbandonata (1775)
  7. Erifile (1778)
  8. L’amore soldato (1778)
  9. L’avaro deluso, o Don Calandrino (1778)
  10. Enea e Lavinia (1779)
  11. Mitridate (1781)
  12. Rosina (1783)

French period

  1. Renaud (1783)
  2. Chimène (1783)
  3. Dardanus (1784)
  4. Œdipe à Colone (1786)
  5. Arvire et Évélina (1788; completed by Rey)