Niccolò Jomelli


Niccolò Jomelli

Niccolò Jommelli, (Aversa, 10 September 1714 - Naples, 25 August 1774), was an Italian composer. Along with other composers mainly in the Holy Roman Empire and France, he made important changes to opera and reduced the importance of star singers.

Early years

Jommelli studied music under Canon Muzzillo, the director of the Aversa cathedral choir. In 1725 he was sent to the "Conservatorio Sant'Onofrio" at Naples, and studied alongside Francesco Feo and Tommaso Prota. In 1728 he moved to the "Conservatorio dei Turchini", and was taught by Nicola Fago (among others). He was greatly influenced by Hasse, who was in Naples during this period. After completing his studies he began work, and wrote two opera buffa, "L’errore amorosa" in early 1737 and "Odoardo" in late 1738. His first opera seria, "Ricimero re di Goti", was such a success in Rome in 1740 that work was immediately commissioned from him by Henry Benedict Stuart, the Cardinal-Duke of York.

When still studying at the conservatory, Jommelli was impressed with Hasse’s use of "obbligato" recitative to increase the tension at certain dramatic moments in his operas. Speaking of obbligato recitative for Ricimero, Charles de Brosses says that Jommelli’s use of "obbligato" recitative was better than anything he had heard in France. [Charles de Brosses, "L'Italie il y a cent ans, ou lettres écrites d'Italie à quelques amis en 1739 et 1740"]

In 1741 Jommelli went to Bologna to compose the music for Metastasio's "Ezio", studying for a time under the famous Franciscan Friar and musician, Father Giovanni Battista Martini and becoming a lifelong friend of his. He was admitted to the "Accademia Filarmonica". Shortly afterwards he moved to Venice, and composed his opera "Merope," which was the forerunner for the French style of opera later in the century. In the years immediately after this, he wrote operas for Venice, Turin, Bologna, Ferrara, and Padua, and two popular oratorios, "Isacco figura del Redentore" and "Betulia liberata".

Some time around 1745, Hasse recommended Jommelli for a position as the Director of Music at the Ospedale degli Incurabili in Venice, one of that city's colleges for female musicians. This full-time employment required him to compose sacred music (mostly settings of the Mass and the Divine Office), but the financial security it gave him also allowed him to compose several other dramatic works.

References


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