Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816)
Paisiello received his education first at the Jesuit school in Taranto and then, between 1754 and 1763, at the Conservatorio di S Onofrio, Naples. At about the time he left the S Onofrio he attracted the attention of a young nobleman, Giuseppe Carafa, who appointed him musical director of the small opera company he was then forming. It was due to Carafa that Paisiello acquired his first commissions to write works for the Teatro Marsigli-Rosi, Bologna, in 1764. The second of these, I francesi brillanti, failed at its first performance but was more successful when it was transferred to Modena two weeks later. This led to a commission from Modena for some new music for an opera originally by Guglielmi, La donna di tutti i caratteri. Paisiello’s revision, Madama l’umorista, contained much new music; its success led in turn to requests for new operas for other north Italian theatres.
Paisiello regarded himself as Neapolitan, and preferred living and working in Naples to anywhere else. In 1766 he returned to Naples; as a freelance composer his chief activity was setting comic operas for the Nuovo and Fiorentini theatres, where his chief rival was Piccinni. But he was also happy to accept commissions for heroic operas for the S Carlo. The three operas (Lucio Papirio dittatore, Olimpia and the so-called Festa teatrale in musica) staged at the S Carlo between June 1767 and May 1768 appear to indicate that the court, and in particular the King of Naples, Ferdinando IV, approved of his music. However, the royal approval seems to have been withdrawn, possibly because of Paisiello’s unusual behaviour over his marriage to a widow, Cecilia Pallini. In the summer of 1768 he signed a contract to marry her but then tried to withdraw from it, using various excuses. Pallini successfully appealed, and Paisiello was confined in prison until the marriage was solemnized on 15 September. He received no further recognition from the court until 1774, when his short Il divertimento de’ numi was performed at the royal palace, and no further commission came from the S Carlo until mid-1776.
Paisiello was unable to fulfil this commission because in 1776 he received and accepted an invitation from Catherine II of Russia to become her maestro di cappella in St Petersburg for three years at an annual salary of 3000 roubles. He left Naples for Russia on 29 July. His duties in St Petersburg included composing all the theatrical pieces ordered by the court and directing the court’s orchestra and opera company. His new patroness maintained her small Italian opera company less out of personal affection for opera than with an eye to its political prestige value. Her relative indifference to music explains perhaps why Paisiello composed fewer stage works in Russia than he had done in a comparable period of time in Naples. In recompense he had time to write a number of keyboard pieces for other ladies of the court; most were for his pupil, the Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna, the empress’s daughter-in-law. Catherine liked him enough to renew his contract in September 1779 for another three years at an increased salary of 4000 roubles. And in 1781 she offered him a further four-year contract from September 1782, the date when his existing contract was due to expire. Paisiello accepted this latest offer, although he was starting to have second thoughts about staying in Russia much longer. His relationship with the court became strained in November 1783 after he had quarrelled with the newly formed committee of court theatres. Using his wife’s ill-health as an excuse, he asked to be granted permission to return to Italy. Rather than lose her maestro altogether, Catherine granted him paid leave for a year. Once out of Russia, however, he made no attempt to return.
One reason why Paisiello did not go back to St Petersburg was his nomination by King Ferdinando of Naples on 9 December 1783 as compositore della musica de’ drammi of the Neapolitan court. This was the result of a determined campaign by Paisiello to persuade the king, through the intercession of friends and intermediaries, to give him an official court position. During his campaign Paisiello sent his latest scores to Ferdinando through the diplomatic mail. His nomination was announced 17 days after Il barbiere di Siviglia (one of the operas he had sent from Russia) was performed before the Neapolitan court at the Palace of Caserta on 22 November 1783.
As the King’s compositore Paisiello had no regular duties at court and no regular salary. Perhaps for this reason he did not reach Naples until October or November 1784, spending the summer of that year in Vienna, where he composed Il re Teodoro in Venezia (performed at the Burgtheater on 23 August). His first offering to the Neapolitan court after his return was Antigono, first given at the S Carlo on 12 January 1785. Shortly afterwards, on 7 March, the king granted him a pension, the conditions of which were reported in the Gazzetta civica napoletana of 18 March: Paisiello was in future obliged to write an annual [heroic] opera for the S Carlo and other occasional music as needed; in return he was to receive 1200 ducats annually, half from the treasury and half from the S Carlo (in effect payment for his annual opera); he was forbidden to leave Naples without royal permission; lastly, he was to receive the pension ‘even if he could no longer compose in the service of His Majesty’. Paisiello faithfully obeyed these conditions for the next five years, and wrote no operas for theatres outside Naples during that period. On 29 October 1787 the king also appointed him maestro della real camera with an annual salary of 240 ducats. This appointment put Paisiello in charge of all secular music at court. His positions as court composer and maestro della real camera, with their large pension and salary, made him the most favoured musician in the city.
In 1790 Paisiello seems to have suffered some kind of physical or mental breakdown. He had contracted to write three operas for different Neapolitan theatres during the autumn and winter season of 1789–90 when Ferdinando gave him the extra task of composing Nina, o sia La pazza per amore (performed outside Caserta on 25 June 1789). This put him behind schedule with the other works. He was able to finish the first, I zingari in fiera, basically on time for the Fondo theatre in the autumn. But the other two, for the Fiorentini and the S Carlo theatres, both of which should have been staged the following carnival, did not then appear. The late completion of Zenobia in Palmira brought him into dispute with the impresario of the S Carlo, who maintained that he had failed to fulfil his annual contract. Paisiello petitioned the king to be relieved of all further duties to the theatre and once more gained his wish. On 30 October 1790 Ferdinando ordained that he should in future receive his full pension without being obliged to write music for the S Carlo. This left him free to write operas for theatres outside Naples if he wished, and in fact he wrote three such works for Padua, London and Venice during the 1791–2 period. After 1792 his output of new operas slowed down; by 1800 it had virtually ceased, and he subsequently wrote only two complete stage works.
From about 1787 Paisiello started to receive commissions from monasteries and convents for masses and other liturgical music. This marked a change in the direction of his artistic endeavours, a change confirmed in December 1796 when he was appointed maestro di cappella of Naples Cathedral. By involving himself primarily in church music from here on Paisiello to some extent turned his back on public acclaim. His earlier successes had been almost exclusively in the realm of opera. Now he was working in musical fields that attracted less publicity. Performances of most of his late religious works were confined to a few locations in Naples, and from 1802 onwards, after he became Napoleon’s private maître de chapelle in Paris.
Paisiello’s journey to Paris followed a series of events that affected his career profoundly. In January 1799 republican forces with French military support gained control of Naples and established there the so-called Parthenopaean Republic. The king and his court fled to Sicily, but Paisiello, who was supposed to follow them, stayed behind. On 4 May he was made maestro di cappella nazionale to the republic (although he afterwards claimed he had not wanted this post) and on 23 May conducted the music at a religious ceremony attended by members of the new government. After Ferdinando’s forces recaptured Naples at the end of June 1799, Paisiello’s part in the republic’s affairs was officially investigated, and he was suspended from all court duties. Not until 7 July 1801 was he pardoned and reinstated in his former positions. This was following a general amnesty for republican sympathizers, apparently requested by the French government, announced by Ferdinando in June 1801.
Napoleon Bonaparte had been a known admirer of Paisiello from the time, in 1797, when he had commissioned from him a funeral march to commemorate the death of the French general Lazare Hoche. Now first consul of France, Napoleon started negotiations with Ferdinando towards the end of 1801 for Paisiello’s temporary release for a visit to Paris. These negotiations must have been complete by 19 January 1802, when Paisiello requested the Naples court to pay his monthly salary to his lawyer during his French visit. The composer finally reached Paris on 25 April. Napoleon seems to have taken his time deciding how best to make use of Paisiello’s talents. In July he offered him a monthly salary of 1000 francs, free housing and free carriage, in return for being at the head of the ‘music formed for the first consul’, and for composing two operas a year and a military march each month. At this stage Napoleon’s idea was clearly to turn his protégé into the leading composer of French opera. But the conditions of employment were then changed. On 25 September Paisiello received a new instruction to be present at and direct the music of the mass of the first consul’s chapel each Sunday. This allowed Paisiello to ignore the earlier conditions, namely that he produce a steady flow of operas and marches. In fact he wrote only one opera in France, Proserpine, which was first performed at the Paris Opéra on 29 March 1803 and was a failure. Otherwise he concentrated on reconstituting the choir and orchestra of Napoleon’s chapel (there had been no private chapel of the rulers of France since the abolition of the French royal chapel in August 1792) and providing music for the weekly service held there.
By early 1804 rumours were being reported and denied in the Parisian press that Paisiello wanted to return home. He finally obtained his release as Napoleon’s maître de chapelle around 10 April, when J.-F. Lesueur was appointed as his successor, but he did not leave Paris until 29 August of that year. His late departure is related to the fact that Napoleon, who had made himself Emperor in May 1804, required the composer to help prepare the music for his coronation (which took place in Notre Dame on 2 December). The coronation music included a newly composed mass by Paisiello and his older Te Deum of 1791.
His return to Naples did not cause a severence of his links with Napoleon. The latter showed his continuing satisfaction with his past maître de chapelle by making him a member of the Legion d’Honneur on 18 July 1806 and by awarding him on 31 July 1808 an annual pension of 1000 francs backdated to 23 September 1804. The composer returned the compliment by sending the Emperor each year between 1807 and 1813 one or more sacred works (most of these were in honour of Napoleon’s birthday on 15 August). Paisiello also continued to serve Napoleon in an indirect way by serving members of his family. In 1806 a French army invaded Naples, forcing Ferdinando to flee to Sicily for the second time. Napoleon’s brother Joseph was installed King of Naples in May. One of his first acts was to put Paisiello in charge of all music at court, i.e. the composer now became maestro di cappella as well as compositore and maestro della real camera. Joachim Murat, Napoleon’s brother-in-law, confirmed Paisiello in these appointments after he succeeded Joseph on the throne of Naples in 1808. Partly because of his own merits, no doubt, but partly also because of his connections with the Bonapartes, Paisiello received other rewards as well. In 1807 he was given one of the three directorships of the music college in Naples that Joseph had just founded, a post he held until 1813. In May 1808 he gained a place in the newly created Ordre royal des Deux Siciles, which gave him the rank of ‘Cavaliere’. He also obtained honorary titles from Academies in Lucca and Livorno, and on 30 December 1809 was nominated one of the eight ‘associés étrangers’ of the Fine Arts section of the French Imperial Institute in Paris.
The composer can hardly have expected good treatment at the hands of Ferdinando when the latter returned yet again to Naples after the fall of the Bonapartes in 1815. Florimo gives the impression that the composer now lost all his appointments save that of maestro di cappella because of his previous affiliations. But in fact Ferdinando, by an amnesty published in Naples on 23 May 1815, pardoned all employees of the previous regime and promised that no action would be taken against them. So Paisiello held on to all his royal appointments until his death in June 1816. Almost inactive as a composer by now, he continued to serve up music in Ferdinando’s chapel that he had written in previous times, much of it ironically first intended for members of the Bonaparte family.
In 1811 Choron and Fayolle brought out the second volume of their Dictionnaire historique des musiciens which included a short autobiographical sketch by Paisiello. In his sketch Paisiello divides his works into three periods, the first embracing his compositions up to his arrival in Russia in 1776, the second his works written in Russia, and the third everything composed after his departure from that country. The works that he assigns to periods one and two are operas in nearly every case. Those that he assigns to his third period include compositions in a wider variety of genres, religious works prominent among them. At the end of the sketch Paisiello makes his own assessment as to which of his works are the most successful. Here he significantly names no fewer than 20 comic operas, 12 heroic operas, but only three church compositions plus what he vaguely calls ‘les motets et symphonies funèbres’.
This emphasis on his operatic production was, and remains, justifiable. In terms of volume created and appreciation engendered Paisiello’s operas overshadow all his other work. Analysis of the style of his early Neapolitan comic operas reveals some of the reasons why he quickly became popular and a successful rival of Piccinni. Generally speaking Paisiello’s style is lighter and melodically less ornate than Piccinni’s. His instrumentation contains more felicitous use of legato-staccato alternations, the bass is less heavy, the accompanying wind is used more imaginatively (often rhythmically offsetting the string phrasing rather than duplicating it; see fig.2). His harmonies are generally simple – this remains true of his music throughout his career. In compensation there is always a strong sense of rhythm; this becomes more pronounced in his later operas in which, in his ensemble writing especially, the rhythmic pulse propels the music through page after page.
In Russia, where he was composing for a court in which Italian was not the normal spoken language, he had to make his music good enough to compensate for any lack of understanding of the libretto. As a result his powers of musical characterization sharpened, his orchestration became more colourful, and his melodies acquired extra warmth. At this time there appeared in his melodic style certain turns of phrase reminiscent of Mozart. (Paisiello’s influence on Mozart, who heard his Il re Teodoro in Venezia in Vienna in 1784 and probably his Il barbiere di Siviglia in 1783, is evident in parts of Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni). After his return to Naples in 1784 Paisiello sought to simplify his melodies still further. His aim was to obtain a sentimental expressiveness by the simplest technical means. The trend is most noticeable in L’amor contrastato (also known as La molinara, 1788) and Nina, o sia La pazza per amore (1789), both of which had a number of popular tunes that endeared these works to the public. The cavatina ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ from L’amor contrastato was a particular favourite that achieved wide distribution and carried Paisiello’s name far outside the opera house. Many composers, including Beethoven, used this cavatina as a basis for variations or free fantasias.
Formal developments of opera buffa at the hands of Paisiello are a good guide to how opera buffa developed generally. The set aria forms of his earliest work (binary, ternary) give way in the early 1780s to a wider variety of aria structures, many of which may be described as ‘free’, i.e. the music is ongoing and lacks obvious recapitulation of material. This allows his arias a formal flexibility that is already the hallmark of his ensembles. Contemporaneously there is a proportional increase in the numbers of ensembles vis-à-vis solo items. Whereas in his early operas the only regular ensembles are the introduction to Act 1 and the act finales, in later operas they occur elsewhere as well and in certain cases almost match the solo items in number – in Il barbiere di Siviglia (1782), for instance, there are eight ensembles and ten solo items. Such developments can be perceived in the operas of Paisiello’s contemporaries, Mozart included.
Other features of Paisiello’s comic operas reflect the particular local conditions under which he was working. All his works for the Nuovo and Fiorentini theatres in Naples have texts in a mixture of Neapolitan and Tuscan dialects, a feature common to all operas staged in those particular houses. His comic operas written for other locations are in Tuscan only. Local circumstances also affected the length of his operas. Around the start of 1779 Catherine decided that his operas should last no longer than an hour and a half. This explains why all his works for the Russian court thereafter were short and (exclusive of Il barbiere di Siviglia) in one or two acts only. By contrast his comic operas for the Nuovo and Fiorentini theatres in Naples last longer and are nearly always in three acts. Act 3 of some of his third-period operas for the Fiorentini is tiny, consisting merely of simple recitative and one love duet. The feature of a small third act was retained in Naples long after opera buffa had been reduced to two acts elsewhere in Italy. When Paisiello’s late three-act operas were performed outside Naples, the tendency was to compress the three acts into two; some such alteration might be justified in modern revivals.
Paisiello’s heroic or tragic operas have not been highly regarded in recent times, partly because his music has been considered too light and frivolous for the sober nature of the genre. Yet he took their composition seriously, and the fact that all but one of his full-length operas written after 1792 have heroic or tragic texts suggests that he retained an affection for this genre longer than for comic opera. He greatly admired Metastasio, whose librettos he extolled to his pupils. He was less sympathetic to the views of Gluck, who claimed to curb the dominance of music over drama in heroic opera. He did, however, do much to limit singers’ abuses, about which Gluck also complained. His attitude to the subject became defined during his Russian period. About his setting of Metastasio’s Alcide in Bivio (1780) he wrote: ‘I have worked very hard at it, since I wanted to get away from the inconveniences created in Italian theatres, and have completely excluded vocalizations, cadenzas and ritornellos, and set nearly all the recitatives with orchestral accompaniment’. After his return to Naples he was no longer able to work toward a comprehensive reform of heroic opera because of the necessity of pleasing conservative taste at the S Carlo. Nonetheless, several of his later operas lack vocalizations and pauses for cadenzas, and a few contain interesting experimental features. Pirro (1787) uses ensemble finales of a type normally reserved for comic opera, during which the action continues to progress. Elfrida (1792), the first of two operas with texts written for him by Calzabigi, is unusual in allocating all solo songs to the principal characters. Proserpine (1803), Paisiello’s only opera in French, has orchestral accompaniment for all the recitatives, as was usual in French grand opera of the period. It is worth noting that the Italian version, called Proserpina (adapted 1807–8 though not staged until 1988), also has orchestral accompaniment throughout.
A quantity of sacred music by Paisiello has survived, but the purpose for which it was written is often hard to ascertain. His first church appointment came in 1796 when he was elected maestro of Naples Cathedral. In his autobiographical sketch Paisiello maintained that he had composed for the cathedral a number of services ‘alla Palestrina’, i.e. in the polyphonic ‘stile antico’. The small amount of surviving choral music of this type, with figured bass support, may generally be placed in this category. A substantial group of liturgical and non-liturgical works with orchestral accompaniment, ranging from short motets to large-scale settings of the mass and vespers psalms, dates from the last decade or so of the century. Many works in this group were, according to the composer’s evidence, commissioned by Neapolitan monasteries and convents later dissolved during the days of the Parthenopaean Republic in 1799. Paisiello’s contributions to the religious services of Ferdinando’s court were few; this was in part because he was never officially in charge of Ferdinando’s chapel until the last year of his life. These contributions, however, include the large Requiem in C minor (1789) and the highly effective Te Deum in B. The latter work was originally written in 1791 to celebrate the return of the king and queen from a visit to Vienna; it became a favourite piece with Napoleon, who used it at a ceremony in Notre Dame on Easter Day 1802 and again at his own coronation in December 1804. Paisiello’s compositions for the chapels of Napoleon and Joseph make up most of his music from 1802 onwards. His autobiographical sketch declares that he composed 16 ‘services’ for Napoleon, in addition to the mass for his coronation and a sacred composition sent each year after his return to Naples, and another 24 ‘services’ for Joseph. The curiosity of these musical services is that they contain an ad hoc selection of texts from liturgical and non-liturgical sources; it seems they were in reality sacred concerts performed in the chapel during ‘low’ mass, i.e. mass that was said. Another feature of these services is that much of their music is borrowed from earlier Paisiello compositions. The implication is that the steady flow of his inspiration, which he had constantly relied on, was beginning to dry up.
His instrumental compositions constitute a very small part of his output. His autobiographical sketch mentions five groups of pieces: 12 quartets for two violins, viola and keyboard (nine have survived as string quartets); a set of ‘Sonates, Caprices et Pièces pour le Piano’ for his pupil the Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna (composed around 1781–3); 12 symphonies for Emperor Joseph II (which must be presumed lost); the funeral march for General Hoche (1797); and six keyboard concertos commissioned by the Princess of Parma (before December 1788). The principal works not mentioned in the sketch are two further keyboard concertos written in Russia, one of which was again for the Grand Duchess. Given that all his keyboard music was for genteel, high-ranking ladies, it is not surprising that the keyboard parts require finger dexterity but offer no outstanding technical challenges. The six concertos for the Princess of Parma may be judged his best essays in the realm of instrumental music. They contain some memorable tunes and a few surprising modulations and chromatic sections that relieve the otherwise rather conventional passage-work. They are pleasing and amiable, but hardly affect the composer’s reputation.
Paisiello’s popularity was at its height in the last two decades of the 18th century. During that period his dramatic works were as much in demand outside Italy as within it. In Vienna, for example, the Italian opera company installed by Joseph II performed during the 1780s more works by Paisiello than by any other single composer (fig.3). Londoners too were particularly partial to his operas. The decline in the demand for his music, which became noticeable everywhere after about 1800, was a sign that taste had changed. The works that retained their popularity longest were his best comic operas, including Il barbiere di Siviglia, L’amor contrastato and Nina, but even these went out of the repertory after the 1820s. Thereafter he was remembered as one of the main names in the so-called ‘Neapolitan school’. Promoters have revived a few of his operas in the late 20th century, kindling a renewed flicker of public interest. It remains to be seen whether this interest will be sustained.
Keybdoard concertos. in C, c1781–3, Gb-Ob, I-Bc, Nc* (Milan, 1937), ed. A. Lualdi (Milan, 1948); F, c1781–3, GB-Ob, I-Bc, Nc*, ed. G. Tintori (Rome, 1964); A, A, B, D, before Dec 1788, GB-Ob, ed. P. Spada (Rome, 1977); g, before Dec 1788, Ob, ed. P. Spada (Rome, 1979); C, before Dec 1788, Ob, US-Bp
Sym., C, I-Rdp; 12 Syms. for Joseph II, lost
16 Divertimenti, wind instr, c1782-3, RU-SPsc; Musica funebre, on death of General Hoche, 1797, F-Pn; 3 pieces for military band (Paris, n.d.)
12 Qts, 2 vn, va, kbd, 1774, 9 survive as str qts, A, A, C, C, D, E, E, E, G, GB-Lbl (lacking vc pt), I-Mc, TRc, Vcm (Paris, n.d.; Offenbach am Main, n.d.)
Collection of rondos and capriccios for kbd, opt. vn acc., before April 1783, A-Wn (2 copies), CH-Gpu, F-Pn (inc.), I-Mc, Nc (2 copies), Vnm, RU-SPsc, US-NYp, also many MSS and printed copies of single pieces
Sonata, vn, pf, E, between 1786 and 1798, I-Nc (2 copies) (Naples, n.d.)
Andante, hn, hp, 1802–4, F-Pn
Doubtful: syms. in C, I-TRc, D, RVE, D, CH-Zz, D, D-MÜu, E, I-Mc; 6 Fl Qts in C, D, e, G, G, G (Berlin, n.d., Brunswick, n.d.); 6 Minuets for orch, I-Mc; March for wind, Rvat; str trio, C, Gl; 6 kbd sonatas with vn acc., A, B, E, F, G, g, EIRE-Dtc (vn pt only); 6 kbd sonatas with vn acc., A, B, C, D, E, G, I-Rsc; kbd sonata with vn acc., C, D-Hs; 3 duos, 2 vn, S-Skma; 7 kbd sonatinas, I-Mc; minuet for kbd, TRa
NC Naples, Teatro S Carlo
NFI Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini
NN Naples, Teatro Nuovo
cm commedia per musica
dg dramma giocoso
dm dramma per musica
int intermezzo per musica
variants are MSS that include musical alterations by other composers
Le virtuose ridicole (dg, 3, C. Goldoni), Parma, Ducale, ? 21 Jan 1764
La moglie in calzoni (dg, 3, after J.A. Nelli), Modena, Rangoni, 18 Feb 1764
Il ciarlone (dg, 3, A. Palomba), Bologna, Marsigli-Rossi, 12 May 1764
I francesi brillanti (dg, 3, P. Mililotti), Bologna, Marsigli-Rossi, c24 June 1764, D-Wa
L’amore in ballo (dg, 3, A. Bianchi), Venice, S Moisè, early Jan 1765, E-Mp, I-Nc*, P-La
Madama l’umorista (dg, 3, after A. Palomba), 26 Jan 1765 [rev. of P.A. Guglielmi: La donna di tutti i caratteri, 1762]
Le nozze disturbate (dg, 3, G. Martinelli), Venice, S Moisè, carn. 1766, I-Nc*, P-La
Le finte contesse (int, 2, after P. Chiari: Il marchese Villano), Rome, Valle, Feb 1766, F-Pn, I-Nc (2 copies, 1 autograph)
La vedova di bel genio (cm, 3, Mililotti), NN, spr. 1766, Nc*
Le ’mbroglie de le Bajasse (cm, 3, Mililotti), NFI, carn. 1767; rev. as La serva fatta padrona, NFI, sum. 1769, E-Mp, I-Nc*
L’idolo cinese (cm, 3, G. Lorenzi), NN, spr. 1767, A-Wn, E-Mp, F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Lbl, I-Mc (Acts 2 and 3), Nc (2 copies, 1 autograph); variants B-Bc, F-Po, US-Bp, Wc
Lucio Papirio dittatore (dm, 3, A. Zeno), NC, c30 June 1767, I-Nc*, P-La
Il furbo malaccorto (cm, 3, Lorenzi), NN, wint. 1767, E-Mp, I-Nc*
Olimpia (dm, 3, D. Trabucco), NC, 20 Jan 1768, Nc*, P-La (2 copies)
Festa teatrale in musica [Peleo; Le nozze di Peleo e Tetide] (2, G.B. Basso Bassi), NC, 25 or 31 May 1768, I-Nc*, S-St
La luna abitata (cm, 3, Lorenzi), NN, sum. 1768, E-Mp, I-Nc*, S-St
La finta maga per vendetta (cm, 3, Lorenzi), NFI, aut. 1768, I-Nc*
L’osteria di Marechiaro (cm, 2, F. Cerlone), NFI, ?carn. 1769, E-Mp, I-Nc* [perf. with a separate Act 3, La Claudia vendicata, Nc*]
Don Chisciotte della Mancia (cm, 3, Lorenzi, after M. de Cervantes), NFI, sum. 1769, A-Wn (variant), E-Mp, F-Pn, I-Nc*; vs (Milan, 1963)
L’arabo cortese (cm, 3, Mililotti), NN, wint. 1769, E-Mp, F-Pn, I-Nc (2 copies, 1 inc. autograph), US-Wc (Acts 1 and 2)
La Zelmira (cm, 3, Cerlone), NN, sum. 1770, F-Pn, I-Nc*
Le trame per amore (cm, 3, Cerlone), NN, 7 Oct 1770, B-Bc, F-Pn, I-Nc*
Demetrio [1st version] (dm, 3, P. Metastasio), Modena, Corte, carn. 1771, F-Pn, I-Mc, Nc*
Annibale in Torino (dm, 3, J. Durandi), Turin, Regio, 16 Jan 1771, Nc*, Tf, P-La
La somiglianza de’ nomi (cm, 3, Mililotti), NN, spr. 1771, E-Mp (frag.), F-Pn, I-Nc*
I scherzi di amore e di fortuna (cm, 3, Cerlone), NN, sum. 1771, Nc*; rev. (int), Nc
Artaserse (dm, 3, Metastasio), Modena, Corte, 26 Dec 1771, Nc*
La Semiramide in villa (int, 2), Rome, Capranica, carn. 1772, Nc*
Motezuma (dm, 3, V.A. Cigna-Santi), Rome, Dame, Jan 1772, Nc*
La Dardané (cm, 3, Cerlone), NN, spr. 1772, E-Mp, I-Nc*
Gli amanti comici (cm, 3, Lorenzi), NN, aut. 1772, E-Mp (Acts 2 and 3), F-Pn, I-Nc*, OS; rev. as Don Anchise Campanone, Venice, S Samuele, aut. 1773, E-Mp (Acts 1 and 2), H-Bn (variant, Act 1), I-Vnm
L’innocente fortunata (dg, 3, F. Livigni), Venice, S Moisè, carn. 1773, Fc, Vnm; variants H-Bn, RU-SPtob; rev. as La semplice fortunata, NN, sum. 1773, I-Nc*
Sismano nel Mogol (dm, 3, G. De Gamerra), Milan, Regio Ducal, 30 Jan 1773, Nc*, Vnm (variant), P-La (2 copies inc.)
Il tamburo (cm, 3, Lorenzi, after J. Addison: The Drummer), NN, spr. 1773, A-Wn (variant), E-Mp, I-Nc (2 copies, 1 autograph); rev. as Il tamburo notturno, Venice, S Moisè, aut. 1773, Nc*, Vnm, RU-SPtob
Alessandro nell’Indie (dramma serio, 3, Metastasio), Modena, Corte, 26 Dec 1773, I-Nc (inc. autograph)
Andromeda (dm, 3, Cigna-Santi), Milan, Regio Ducal, carn. 1774, F-Pn, I-Nc*, P-La (Acts 2 and 3)
Il duello (cm, 1, Lorenzi), NN, spr. 1774, E-Mp, F-Pn, I-Mc (2 copies), Vnm, US-Bp; rev. as Il duello comico, Tsarskoye Selo, 1782, I-Nc*, RU-SPtob, vs (Rome, 1944); rev. as Le duel comique (P.-L. Moline), Paris, Comédie-Italienne (Bourgogne), 16 Oct 1776 (Paris, 1777)
Il credulo deluso (cm, 3, after Goldoni: Il mondo della luna), NN, Sept 1774, F-Pn, I-Nc (2 copies, 1 autograph), OS; rev. as Orgon dans la lune (M.J. Mattieu de Lépidor), F-Pn, R
La frascatana (dg, 3, Livigni), Venice, S Samuele, aut. 1774, B-Bc, D-Wa, I-Bc, Mc, Nc*, PAc, Rsc, Vnm, P-La, S-Skma, US-R, Wc; variants A-Wn (2 copies), D-Bsb (2 copies, 1 in Ger.), Hs, DK-Kk (in Dan.), F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Lbl (2 copies inc.), I-Bc, Vnm, US-Bp, NYp; rev. as L’infante de Zamora (N.E. Framery), Strasbourg, 1779, and Versailles, 1781 (Paris, n.d.)
Il divertimento de’ numi (scherzo rappresentativo per musica, 1, Lorenzi), Naples, Palazzo Reale, 4 Dec 1774, I-Fc (inc.), Nc*
Demofoonte (dm, 3, Metastasio), Venice, S Benedetto, carn. 1775, F-Pn, I-Mc, P-La
La discordia fortunata (dg, 3), Venice, S Samuele, carn. 1775, I-Fc, P-La; variants A-Wn, Wa, H-Bn (Act 1)
Le astuzie amorose (cm, 3, Cerlone), NN, spr. 1775, E-Mp (variant), I-Nc*, Tf (variant)
Socrate immaginario (cm, 3, Lorenzi and Galiani), NN, Oct 1775, A-Wgm (inc.), D-Bsb, F-Pn, GB-Ob, H-Bn (Acts 1 and 2), I-Nc (2 copies, 1 autograph with later alterations), PAc, Rsc (Act 1), RU-SPsc, S-St, US-Wc; variants GB-Lbl (Act 1), I-Bc, P-La (Acts 1 and 2); vs (Florence, 1931)
Il gran Cid (dm, 3, ? after G.G. Bottarelli), Florence, Pergola, aut. 1775, I-Fc, Nc*, US-Wc
Le due contesse (int, 2, G. Petrosellini), Rome, Valle, 3 Jan 1776, E-Mp (2 copies), F-Pn (4 copies), GB-Lbl (2 copies), H-Bn, I-MOe, Nc*, Vnm, S-St, US-NYp, Wc; variants A-Wn (2 copies), RU-SPtob; rev. as Les deux comtesses (Framery), Versailles and Strasbourg, 1781 (Paris, n.d.), F-Pa (variant)
La disfatta di Dario (dm, 3, Duke of S Angelo Morbilli), Rome, Argentina, carn. 1776, B-Bc (Acts 1 and 2), D-Hs, GB-Lbl, I-Bc, Nc*, Vnm, S-St, US-Wc; variants F-Pn, I-Nc, P-La
Dal finto il vero (cm, 3, F.S. Zini), NN, spr. 1776, F-Pn, I-Nc (2 copies, 1 autograph), OS, S-St, US-Wc; variants I-Vnm, RU-SPtob
Nitteti (dm, 3, Metastasio), St Petersburg, Imperial, c17/28 Jan 1777, D-Bsb, F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Ob, I-Mc, Nc*, RU-Mcm
Lucinda ed Armidoro (azione teatrale, 2, M. Coltellini), St Petersburg, aut. 1777, D-Bsb, F-Pn (Act l), GB-Lbl, Ob, I-Nc*, RU-SPtob, US-Bp, Wc
Achille in Sciro (dm, 3, Metastasio), St Petersburg, 26 Jan/6 Feb 1778, D-Bsb, F-Pn, GB-Lbl, Ob, I-Nc*, RU-Mcm (Acts 1 and 3), SPtob, US-Wc
Lo sposo burlato (dg, 2, G.B. Casti), Peterhof, 13/24 July 1778, RU-SPtob [pasticcio]
I filosofi immaginari [Gli astrologi immaginari] (dg, 2, G. Bertati), St Petersburg, Hermitage, 3/14 Feb 1779, A-Wn*, B-Bc, DK-Kk, F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Ob, H-Bn, I-Fc, RU-SPtob, S-Skma; variants D-Wa, DK-Kk (2 copies, 1 inc. in Dan.), I-Pc, Vnm, US-Bp, Wc; as Le philosophe imaginaire (P.U. Du Buisson), Paris, Tuileries, 1780 (Paris, n.d.); as Die eingebildeten Philosophen, A-M, Sca, Wn, D-Bsb, Hs, DK-Kk, RU-SPtob; as I visionari, Dresden, 1793
Demetrio [2nd version] (dm, 2, Metastasio), Tsarskoye Selo, 13/24 June 1779, GB-Lcm, Ob (Act 1), I-Nc*, RU-SPtob
Il matrimonio inaspettato (dg, 1 [some MSS in 2 Pts], after Chiari: Il marchese Villano), Kammenïy Ostrov, St Petersburg, 21 Oct/1Nov 1779, F-Pn (2 copies), I-Mc, Nc*, RU-SPtob; variants B-Bc, E-Mp, GB-Cfm, Lbl, I-Vnm, RU-SPtob (in Russ.), S-St (in Swed.); as La contadina di spirito o sia Il matrimonio inaspettato, A-Wn, H-Bn, I-MOe; as Le marquis Tulipano (C.J.A. Gourbillon), Paris, Monsieur, 28 Jan 1789, F-R (Paris, n.d.)
La finta amante (ob, 2), Moghilev, 25 May/5 June 1780, A-Wn (2 copies), B-Bc, D-Bsb, F-Pn (3 copies), GB-Lbl, I-MOe, Nc (2 inc. copies, 1 autograph), Vnm, RU-SPtob (2 copies, 1 shortened)
Alcide al bivio (festa teatrale, 1, Metastasio), St Petersburg, Hermitage, 25 Nov/6 Dec 1780, B-Bc, GB-Lcm, Ob, I-Nc*, RU-SPit (inc.), Sptob (variant)
La serva padrona (int, 2, G.A. Federico), Tsarskoye Selo, 30 Aug/10 Sept 1781, A-Wn, B-Bc, D-MÜs (inc.), F-Pn (4 copies), GB-Lbl, I-Bc, Mc (2 copies), MC, Nc (3 copies), PAc (variant), PESc, Rsc, Rvat (Part 1), Vnm, RU-SPsc, SPtob (3 copies, 1 in Fr., 1 in Russ.), S-Skma, US-Bp, NYp, SFsc, Wc; (Paris, n.d.)
Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile (dg, 4, after P.-A. Beaumarchais: Le barbier de Séville), St Petersburg, Hermitage, 15/26 Sept 1782, A-Wn, C-Lu, CH-Zz, D-Hs, Wa, E-Mc (2 copies), F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Lbl, Lcm, Ob, H-Bn, I-Bc, Mc (2 copies), MOe, Nc*, OS, Pc, PAc (2 copies), PESc, Rsc, Rvat, Vc, Vnm, P-La, RU-SPsc, S-Skma; rev. (3), NFI, spr. 1787, I-Nc (2 copies, 1 inc.); variants A-Wn, B-Bc(in Fr.), D-Bsb (in Ger.), Hs (2 copies, 1 in Ger.), I-PAc, S-St (in Swed.), US-CA; as Le barbier de Séville (Framery), Versailles, 14 Sept 1784, F-Pn (Paris, ?1784); as Le barbier de Séville (Moline), ? Paris, 1787 (Paris, 1787); ed. G. Guidi (Florence, 1868)
Il mondo della luna (festa teatrale comica, 1, after Goldoni), Kammenïy Ostrov, St Petersburg, 24 Sept/5 Oct 1783, A-Wn, I-Nc*, RU-SPtob, US-Wc; variants A-Wn, E-Mp, F-Pn
Il re Teodoro in Venezia (dramma eroi-comico, 2, Casti), Vienna, Burg, 23 Aug 1784, A-Wgm (2 copies), Wn (3 copies, 1 in Ger.), B-Bc, CH-Zz, D-Bsb (2 copies in Ger.), HR, Mbs (inc.), DK-Kk(2 copies, 1 in Dan.), F-Pn (3 copies), Po, GB-Lbl, H-Bn (inc.), I-Bc (variant), Gl, Mc, Nc*, OS, Pc, PAc (2 copies), Rvat, Vnm (2 copies), RU-SPtob, US-Bp (Act 1 in Ger.), CA, Wc; as Le roi Théodore à Venise (Du Buisson), Fontainebleau, 28 Oct 1786 (Paris, n.d.); as Le roi Théodore à Venise (Moline), Paris, Opéra, 1 Sept 1787, F-Po (Paris, n.d.); ed. M. Robinson (Milan, 1996)
Antigono (dm, 3, Metastasio), NC, 12 Jan 1785, B-Bc, D-Mbs, F-Pn, I-Nc*, P-La, US-Wc
L’amore ingegnoso (int, 2), Rome, Valle, carn. 1785, F-Pn, I-Nc*, Vnm
La grotta di Trofonio (cm, 2, G. Palomba, after Casti), NFI, aut. 1785, A-Wn, D-Mbs, Wa, E-Mp (as Amor non a’ riguardi), F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Ob, I-Nc*, RU-SPsc, US-R (Act 1); variants A-Wgm, Wn (in Ger., as Die Trofonius Höhle), F-Pn (2 copies), I-Gl, Vnm
Olimpiade (dm, 3, Metastasio), NC, 20 Jan 1786, D-Mbs, I-Nc, P-La, short score, arias, duet, terzet (Naples, 1786); rev. NC, 30 May 1793, F-Pn, GB-Ob, I-Nc*
Le gare generose (cm, 2, G. Palomba, after Calzabigi: Amiti e Ontario, o i selvaggi), NFI, spr. 1786, A-Wn, D-Wa, E-Mp, F-Pn (2 copies), I-Gl, Nc*, Tf, Vnm; variants A-Wn, B-Bc (Act 2), F-Pn, H-Bn, RU-SPtob, US-Wc; as Gli schiavi per amore, London, King’s, 24 April 1787, GB-Lbl, vs of Act 1 (London, n.d.); as Le bon maître, ou L’esclave par amour (Gourbillon and P.G. Parisau), Paris, Monsieur, March 1790, F-Pn, R (shortened) (Paris, 1790)
Pirro (dm, 3, De Gamerra), NC, 12 Jan 1787, A-Wn, B-Bc, F-Pn (4 copies), GB-Cpl, Lcm, I-Bc, Nc*, PAc, Vnm, P-La, S-Skma, US-Bp; variant, Tuileries, Paris, 24 Jan 1811, F-Pn
Giunone Lucina (componimento drammatico, 1, C. Sernicola), NC, 8 Sept 1787, D-Mbs, GB-Lbl, I-Nc*
La modista raggiratrice (cm, 3, Lorenzi, after G.A. Federico: Il Filippo), NFI, aut. 1787, GB-Ob, I-Nc (2 copies, 1 autograph), Pc, Rsc, Vc, Vnm; variants A-Wn, D-Bsb, F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Lbl, I-PAc, Rsc, Tf, P-La, RU-SPtob, US-Bp (inc.); as La scuffiara raggiratrice, Florence, 1788; as La scuffiara amante, o sia Il maestro de scuola napolitano, Rome, 1788; as La cuffiara, Monza, 1789
Fedra (dm, 3, L.B. Salvioni, after C.I. Frugoni), NC, 1 Jan 1788, A-Wn, D-Bsb, F-Pn, GB-Lbl, Ob, I-Nc*, P-La
L’amor contrastato [La molinara] (cm, 3, G. Palomba), NFI, aut. 1788, D-Mbs (2 copies), E-Mp, F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Lbl, I-Mc, Nc*, US-SFsc (inc.); variants A-Wgm, Wn (3 copies, 2 in Ger.), B-Bc, CH-Zz (in Ger.), D-Bsb (2 copies, 1 in Ger.), NEhz (in Ger.), DK-Kmk, F-Pn (2 copies), I-OS, PAc, Vnm, P-La, RU-SPit (inc.), SPsc, SPtob (4 copies, 1 in Ger.), US-Bp, BE (inc.), Wc (2 copies); Acts 1 and 2 (Florence, 1962), vs in Ger. (Berlin, n.d.), (Leipzig, n.d.)
Catone in Utica (dm, 3, Metastasio), NC, 5 Feb 1789, F-Pn, GB-Lcm, Ob, I-Gl (variant), Nc*, P-La
Nina, o sia La pazza per amore (commedia in prosa ed in verso per musica, 1, G. Carpani, after B.-J. Marsollier des Vivetières, with addns by Lorenzi), S Leucio, Caserta, 25 June 1789, A-Wn, D-Mbs, GB-Lbl; rev. (2), NFI, aut. 1790, D-Bsb, Hs, Mbs, DK-Kk (2 copies), E-Mc, EIRE-Dtc, F-Pn, GB-Lbl, Lcm, Ob, I-Bc, Mc, Nc (3 copies, 1 autograph), OS, Rsc, Vc, S-Skma, St, US-Bp, Wc; variants A-Wn, B-Bc, Br, D-Hs (Act 2), DK-Kk, F-Pn, R (in Fr.), GB-Lcm (Act 1), I-Mc (2 copies), Mr, PAc (2 copies), Tf, Vc (2 copies), Vnm (3 copies), RU-SPit, SPsc (in Russ.), US-NYp; vs ed. C. Gatti (Milan, 1940)
I zingari in fiera (dm, 2, G. Palomba), Naples, Fondo, 21 Nov 1789, B-Bc, D-Bsb, Hs (2 copies), E-Mp, F-Pn, GB-Lbl (2 copies), Ob, I-Mc, MOe, Nc*, P-La, S-Skma; variants A-Wgm, Wn, I-Pc, PAc, Rsc, Vnm, RU-SPtob (in Russ.)
Le vane gelosie (cm, 3, Lorenzi), NFI, spr. or early sum. 1790, E-Mp, I-Nc*, P-La; as La discordia conjugale, GB-Lcm (Act 1); collab. S. Palma
Zenobia in Palmira (dm, 2, G. Sertor), NC, 30 May 1790, GB-Lcm, I-Nc*, US-Bp
Ipermestra (dm, 3, Metastasio), Padua, Nuovo, June 1791, GB-Lcm (variant), I-Pc, Vnm [incl. music by Bertoni, Fabrizi and Tarchi]
La locanda (dg, 2, G. Tonioli, after Bertati), London, Pantheon, 16 June 1791, I-Nc*; rev. as Il fanatico in Berlina (3), NFI, carn. 1792, A-Wn, E-Mp, EIRE-Dtc, GB-Lbl (Acts 1 and 2), I-Mc, Pc (Acts 1 and 2), PAc, PESc, Vnm, P-La (Act l), US-Bp; variants A-Wn, D-Bsb, RU-SPtob
I giuochi d’Agrigento (dm, 3, A. Pepoli), Venice, Fenice, 16 May 1792, A-Wgm, D-Mbs, F-Pn (2 copies), GB-Lcm (2 copies), Ob, I-Nc (2 copies), PAc, Vlevi, Vnm, RU-SPit, SPtob, US-Bp (variant), Wc (inc.)
Elfrida (tragedia per musica, 2, R. de Calzabigi), NC, 4 Nov 1792, B-Bc, F-Pn, GB-Lbl, Ob, I-Nc*, PAc, Rmassimo, Rsc, Vnm, S-St, US-Bp; variants RU-SPtob, US-NYp
Elvira (tragedia per musica, 3, Calzabigi), NC, 12 Jan 1794, B-Bc, F-Pn, I-Nc*, PAc, Vnm, US-Bp
Didone abbandonata (dm, 2, Metastasio), NC, 4 Nov 1794, A-Wgm, D-Bsb, F-Pn, GB-Lbl, I-Nc*, Rsc, Vnm, US-Bp
La Daunia felice (festa teatrale, 1, F.P. Massari), Foggia, Palazzo Dogana, 25 June 1797, I-Nc*
Andromaca (dm, 2), NC, 18 Nov 1797, A-Wn, F-Pn, I-Nc*, RU-SPsc, SPtob, US-Bp; variants I-Pc, Vnm
L’inganno felice (cm, 2, G. Palomba), Naples, Fondo, wint. 1798, GB-Ob, I-Mc (2 copies), Nc*, Rsc, Vnm, US-Bp; variants B-Br, RU-SPtob (as L’ingiusta gelosia)
L’isola disabitata (Metastasio), 1799
Proserpine (tragédie lyrique, 3, N.-F. Guillard, after P. Quinault), Paris, Opéra, 29 March 1803, F-Pn, Po (2 copies) (Paris, 1803); rev. as Proserpina (G. Sanseverino), I-Bc, Bsf, Nc
Epilogue for S. Mayr: Elisa (farsa, 1, ?Nicolini), NC, 19 March 1807, F-Pn*
I pittagorici (dramma, 1, V. Monti), NC, 19 March 1808, D-Mbs, F-Pn
Doubtful [operas mentioned in Paisiello’s autobiographical sketch (see Choron-FayolleD) and for which no other evidence has been found; comp. ?before 1776]: Il mondo alla rovescia, Bologna; I bagni d’Abano, Parma; Le pescatrici, Venice; Il giocatore, Turin; Il finto principe, Florence
Choron-FayolleD [incl. autobiographical sketch]
MGG1 (A. Mondolfi)
G.B. Gagliardo, ed.: Onori funebri renduti alla memoria di Giovanni Paisiello (Naples, 1816)
G. de Dominicis: Saggio su la vita del Cavalier Don Giovanni Paisiello (Moscow, 1818)
F. Schizzi: Della vita e degli studi di Giovanni Paisiello (Milan, 1833)
M. Scherillo: L’opera buffa napoletana durante il Settecento (Naples, 1883, 2/1916/R)
F. Barberio: ‘Lettere inedite di Paisiello’, RMI, xxiv (1917), 73–88
H. Abert: ‘Paisiellos Buffokunst und ihre Beziehung zu Mozart’, AMw, i (1918–19), 402–21
F. Barberio: ‘I primi dieci anni di vita artistica di Paisiello’, RMI, xxix (1922), 264–76
A. Della Corte: Paisiello (Turin, 1922)
A. Della Corte: L’opera comica italiana nel Settecento (Bari, 1923)
U. Prota-Giurleo: Paisiello ed i suoi primi trionfi a Napoli (Naples, 1925)
N. Cortese: ‘Un’autobiografia inedita di Giovanni Paisiello’, RaM, iii (1930), 123–35
E. Faustini-Fasini: ‘Documenti paisielliani inediti’, NA, xiii (1936), 105–27
H.V.E. Somerset: ‘Giovanni Paisiello: 1740–1816’, ML, xviii (1937), 20–35
A. Loewenberg: ‘Paisiello’s and Rossini’s “Barbiere di Siviglia”’, ML, xx (1939), 157–67
E. Faustini-Fasini: Opere teatrali, oratori e cantate di Giovanni Paisiello (Bari, 1940)
U. Rolandi: ‘Contributi alla bibliografia di Giovanni Paisiello’, Rinascenza salentina (Lecce, 1940)
U. Prota-Giurleo: Breve storia del teatro di corte e della musica a Napoli nei secoli XVII-XVIII (Naples, 1952)
G. Pannain: ‘“Don Chisciotte de la Mancia” di G.B. Lorenzi e Giovanni Paisiello’, RMI, lvi (1954), 342–5
A. Della Corte: ‘Un’opera di Paisiello per Caterina II di Pietroburgo: Gli astrologi immaginari (1779)’, Chigiana, xxiii (1966), 135–47
J. Mongrédien: ‘La musique du sacre de Napoléon ler’, RdM, liii (1967), 137–74
A. Ghislanzoni: Giovanni Paisiello: valutazioni critiche rettificate (Rome, 1969)
G.C. Ballola: ‘L’ultimo Calzabigi, Paisiello e l’Elfrida’, Chigiana, xxix-xxx (1975), 357–68
J.L. Hunt: Giovanni Paisiello: his Life as an Opera Composer (New York, 1975)
F. Lippmann: ‘Un’opera per onorare le vittime della repressione borbonica del 1799 e per glorificare Napoleone: I pittagorici di Vincenzo Monti e Giovanni Paisiello’, Musica e cultura a Napoli: Naples 1982, 281–306
M.F. Robinson: ‘Giovanni Paisiello e la cappella reale di Napoli’, ibid., 267–80
F. Blanchetti: ‘Tipologia musicale dei concertati nell’opera buffa di Giovanni Paisiello’, RIM, xix (1984), 234–60
F. Lippmann: ‘“Il mio ben quando verrà”: Paisiello creatore di una nuova semplicità’, Studi musicali, xix (1990), 385–405