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Conti, Nicola [Niccolò]locked

  • James L. Jackman
  •  and Paologiovanni Maione

(fl Naples, 1733–54). Italian organist and composer. He studied, according to Villarosa (Memorie dei compositori, 1840), with Durante and was later maestro di musica of ‘many Neapolitan churches’. On 14 December 1733 he was admitted to the Neapolitan royal chapel as an organist. In 1737, on the death of the maestro di cappella Francesco Mancini, he asked for promotion but this was not granted. Although he wrote several operas, he composed mainly sacred music; his works were still sufficiently admired at the end of the century for a quintet to be incorporated into the pasticcio L’ape musicale, ossia Il poeta impresario (L. da Ponte; Trieste, 1792) and for Reichardt to praise the serious fervour expressed in his arias. It is uncertain whether he was the singer Nicolò Conti who sang in Brescia in 1747 and at the Teatro S Samuele in Venice in 1749; he may have been the father of the soprano Gioacchino Conti, who sang the role of Apollo in La Dafne.

His opera scores are lost, but his serious style may be studied in the oratorios. These works are impressive, particularly in their harmonic treatment and in their tonal control. Arias are in full da capo form and show Conti’s predilection for concertato effects with contrasts in scoring, contrapuntal texture, dynamics, melodic style and key. He used much accompanied recitative and unexpected modal alterations were a favourite device. Expressive markings of tempos and dynamics are uncommonly thorough for the time. He was less skilful in his handling of declamation than of harmony; melismas often appear on emotionally neutral words, indicating the stereotyping of the practice. Attalo re di Bitinia, performed in Naples in spring 1751 and sometimes ascribed to Nicola, was by Giuseppe Conti.

Works

Operas

performed in Naples, unless otherwise stated

L’Ippolita (ob, G.A. Federico), Fiorentini, spr. 1733

Cajo Marzio Coriolano (os, P. Pariati), S Bartolomeo, carn. 1734, rev. of J.A. Hasse, Carlotta e Pantaleone (int)

La Dafne (componimento drammatico), Palazzo Carafe, 1747 [for the wedding of Gennaro Maria Carafa, Prince of Roccella, and Teresa Carafa]

Berenice (os, B. Vitturi), Rome, Capranica, 3 Dec 1743

L’Olindo [most of Acts 1 and 2] (ob, A. Palomba), Fiorentini, spr. 1753

rest, incl. sinfonia, by M. Capranica

Arias in D-Dl, F-Pn, GB-Lbl, Lkc, I-Gl, Mc; Duet, Mc

Other vocal

In lode del glorioso patriarca San Francesco di Paola (L.C. Fularco), Naples, Casa Rinaldi, 1732

La Passione di Gesù Cristo (orat), 1739, I-Nf

Isacco (orat), 1741, Nc, Nf

La Passione di Gesù Cristo Signore Nostro (orat, P. Metastasio), Florence, Oratorio di S Filippo Neri, 1743

La morte di Abel (orat, Metastasio), Naples, Oratorio di Napoli, 1748

L’Endimione (cant., Metastasio), Naples, 26 July 1752

Partenope consolata (cant., D. Volpe), Naples, Palazzo Reale, March 1754

Per la festività del SS Natale (Metastasio), Naples, 1755

Rut nel campo di Booz (N. Recco), Naples, S Maria Regina Coeli Monastery, 1759

La madre dei Maccabei (orat), Nf

Cant. in honour of S Giuseppe, frags. in GB-Lbl

3 Lamentazioni, 10 Lezioni, I-Nf; motets, GB-Lbl, I-Nf; Ky, Gl, Bc; Responsorio di S Angelo di Padova, 5vv, insts, Nc

Bibliography

  • F. Piperno: ‘Buffe e buffi (considerazioni sulla professionalità degli interpreti di scene buffe ed intermezzi)’, RIM, 18 (1982), 240–84
  • F. Cotticelli and P. Maione: Le istituzioni musicali a Napoli durante il Viceregno austriaco (1707–1734): materiali inediti sulla Real Cappella ed il Teatro di San Bartolomeo (Naples, 1993)
Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitäts-Bibliothek, Musikabteilung
London, British Library
C. Schmidl: Dizionario universale dei musicisti suppl.
R. Eitner: Biographisch-bibliographisches Quellen-Lexikon
La musica: dizionario
Naples, Biblioteca Oratoriana dei Gerolamini (Filippini)
Genoa, Conservatorio di Musica Nicolò Paganini, Biblioteca
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
[flourished]
E.L. Gerber: Neues historisch-biographisches Lexikon der Tonkünstler
C. Sartori and R. Allorto: Enciclopedia della musica
Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale
Rivista italiana di musicologia
Milan, Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Verdi, Biblioteca
London, King's College Library
Naples, Conservatorio di Musica S Pietro a Majella, Biblioteca
C. Sartori: I libretti italiani a stampa dalle origini al 1800 (Cuneo, 1990-94)
C. de Rosa, Marchese di Villarosa: Memorie dei compositori di musica del regno di Napoli (Naples, 1840)