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International Flute Competition "Domenico Cimarosa"

6 - 7 - 8 December 2017 - Aversa
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DOMENICO CIMAROSA - BIOGRAPHY

House Cimarosa(Aversa)    Painting mural(Aversa)     Bust to Cimarosa       Church S. Audeno


Domenico Cimarosa was born in Aversa, Italy on 17 December 1749; his mother was a washerwoman, and his father, a mere bricklayer, died when Domenico was just 7.
As his family faced indigence, Cimarosa’s upbringing was attended to by Father Polcano (or by Father Porzio according to other sources), an organist in the Monastery of San Severo, the village where the musician’s mother worked.
From the parson, the young boy learned the basics of music and of poetry, and given his unmistakable endowment, in 1761 he obtained a scholarship at the Conservatory of the Holy Mother of Loreto.
Little is known about his former music teachers, but it is presumed that he completed his musical studies after the Conservatory under the guidance of Nicolò Piccini.
In those years Cimarosa, beside being a violinist, an organist, and a harpsichordist, displayed remarkable talents as a singer; as a composer, after a few attempts with sacred music, he had his stage debut in 1772 with the opera "Le stravaganze del Conte", and four years later with "La frascatana nobile".
His first wife Costanza Suffi died only a few years after the marriage, and he married her sixteen-year-old stepsister Gaetana Pallante, who gave birth to two children.
Compositional inspiration was strong and reckless in those years, although Cimarosa only started enjoying critical acclaim in 1779 with "L'Italiana in Algeri" at the Teatro Valle in Rome.
"Caio Melisso", "Alessandro nelle Indie" and "Giannina e Bernardone" followed, which soon made him as much a celebrity as Piccini and Paisiello, both in Italy and abroad.
In 1787 he was invited to the Court of Russian Empress Catherine II, and while travelling he stopped at the main Italian courts to gather enthusiastic recognition.
During the time he was a Chapel Master in Russia, he composed several choirs and cantatas, as well as a mass, and several of his works enriched the theatres’ libraries.
In 1791 Cimarosa travelled back to Italy, first stopping in Warsaw, then in Vienna at the court of Leopold II, where he was appointed to compose the opera that would become his masterpiece – “Il matrimonio segreto” (The Secret Marriage).
He then reached Italy, and when The Secret Marriage premiered at the Teatro de’ Fiorentini in Naples in 1793, it was such a huge success that it was performed for 110 nights in the five following months.
As recognition continued, he continued to compose "I Traci amanti", "Astuzie femminili" and the serious opera "Gli Orazi e i Curiazi".
Now in his late years, Cimarosa faced the harshest years of his life, when neural problems started to surface which would later take his life.
When the Naples Revolution broke out in 1799, Cimarosa joined it with such fervour as to compose a republican hymn; later, as King Ferdinand was reinstated, he paid a high price for his enthusiasm: his house was pillaged, his harpsichord was smashed (allegedly thrown out of a window) and despite his attempt to restore his position by composing the hymn "Bella Italia" along with "Cantata in occasione del bramato ritorno di Ferdinando" (On the occasion of Ferdinand’s awaited return), Cimarosa was imprisoned.
After four months, he was released upon pressure by the Holy See (or by the Russian crown according to others), he left the Kingdom of Two Sicilies to settle north, first in Padua then in Venice, where he started composing “Artemisia”.
The opera was unfinished as death struck him on 11 January, 1801 in Palazzo Duodo, the building where he lived. His sudden death gave rise to several allegations, including a possible case of poisoning or the job of killers sent by Caroline of Naples.
The city of Venice, as it had welcomed him, so it offered heartfelt celebrations and rituals: a mass and several songs were specially composed and played, including "Concerto lugubre" for flute and orchestra, dedicated to Cimarosa by Luigi Giannella.
Also in Rome, given his personal friendship with Cardinal Consalvi, celebration was so solemn that sculptor Canova was appointed to make a bust in his honour (now kept at the Museo Capitolino in Rome).
Domenico Cimarosa was an extremely prolific composer, he wrote more than seventy operas as well as instrumental and vocal pieces of music.
Several of his manuscripts are kept in museums of Russian theatres, still uncatalogued. His personal archive, retained by his son Paolo, was donated to the Naples Conservatory in 1852.
In spite of his turns of fate, Domenico Cimarosa embodied with passion the tangible endeavour of the Enlightenment and the free circulation of men and ideas in late 18th-century Europe, representing with his work one of the highest expressions of the end of a century as well as of an era. Among his most popular works: "L'impresario in angustie", "Maestro di Cappella", "L'infedeltà fedele", "Il marito disperato".