Domenico Cimarosa: His Life and His Operas

Domenico Cimarosa: His Life and His Operas

Domenico Cimarosa: His Life and His Operas

Domenico Cimarosa: His Life and His Operas


This is the first book in English about Domenico Cimarosa, his more than 65 operas and his sacred and secular vocal music, his keyboard music, and his various works for solo instruments and ensembles. This is also the first authoritative book on Cimarosa since an Italian biography published in 1939. Since that earlier tome was published, many important discoveries have come to light. The authors completed most of their research work at the library of the Conservatorio di musica San Pietro a Majella in Naples. Their efforts have uncovered new information on the composer's marriages, wives, children, actual performance locations, dates of first performances of his operas, and his professional appointments and contacts.


We, the authors of this book, made a startling discovery when, in 1989, we decided to mount Domenico Cimarosa's sparkling and ever-popular comic opera, Il matrimonio segreto (The Secret Marriage), as the major production for our Italian opera-apprentice program at Teatro Signorelli in Cortona, Italy. Though Cimarosa (1749-1801) had been, without question, the most popular opera composer of his day, and though his Il matrimonio segreto has never been out of the active repertory since the time of its creation, we discovered -- as we tried to collect background information for our production -- there was not a single book to be found in English about either Cimarosa's life or his music.

Since we were living in Italy, we started to scour Italian bookstores and libraries for pertinent works about Cimarosa and his operas in that language. We were surprised to learn that the only true book available at that time -- "book" as opposed to research papers, encyclopedic entries, and scholarly treatise -- had been written back in 1939 byMaria Tibaldi Chiesa, Domenico Cimarosa e il suo tempo. As we studied it we discovered what is probably true of any "first" major biography of a famous artist, it contained a number of errors of fact as well as omissions of important information due to the limited access the author had to the very meager amount of available material.

Fascinated by what little we had discovered, coupled with the wonderful fun and music of Il matrimonio segreto, we decided to develop a five-year festival, Cimarosa Riconosciuto (Cimarosa Rediscovered) in Cortona at Teatro Signorelli. Talmage Fauntleroy, as Artistic Director of Studio Lirico and regista (stage director) started investigating the extant operas of Cimarosa, while Nick Rossi, Administrative Director of Studio Lirico and a musicologist by profession, began research into the life and times of Domenico Cimarosa.

Fortunately, because the composer's close friend, Cardinal Consalvi, was a great admirer of Cimarosa's music, all of the original manuscripts in the possession of the composer at the time of his death were given by his son Paolo to Cardinal Consalvi. the Cardinal, in turn, willed this collection of Cimarosa holograph scores to the library of the Conservatorio di musica S Pietro a Majella in Naples where they are now housed and available for study.

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