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Michael F. Robinson

revised by Francesca Seller

(fl 1739–40). Italian composer. In the document recording his appointment as maestro di cappella of the Ospedale della Pietà, Venice, in 1739 he is called ‘Alessandro Gennaro Napolitano’, which indicates that he was born or educated or both in the Neapolitan region. Fétis stated that he was born in Naples in 1717, but no confirmation of this is known. He was in service at the Pietà from 21 August 1739 to 13 May 1740 when he was dismissed for lack of diligence. Within that period he was not entirely idle, however, for he presented his opera Ottone at the Theatro S Giovanni Grisostomo, Venice, during Carnival 1740 and his serenata Il coro delle muse at the Ospedale on 21 March of the same year, performed by the pupils themselves. Both compositions were in honour of the Electoral Prince of Saxony, Friedrich Christian. Goldoni, who wrote the words of the serenata, said in his memoirs (...


Daniel Heartz

(b Venice, Dec 11, 1712; d Pisa, May 3, 1764). Italian writer on opera, poet and savant. He was well educated at Rome and Bologna, whence he was welcomed into the learned circles of London and Paris, where he shared accommodation with Voltaire. In 1740 Frederick the Great took him into his personal service and gave him the title of count. From 1742 to 1747 he was also adviser to Augustus III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. At both Berlin and Dresden he was actively engaged in operatic productions, arranging and versifying Italian librettos to the taste of his patrons. He returned to Italy in 1753 because of ill-health. His Saggio sopra l'opera in musica was written the following year and first published in 1755. It attacks the unruliness prevalent in Italian public theatres, which compared unfavourably with the well-regulated and varied spectacles beginning to emerge at the court theatres of northern Europe. Other contemporary essayists such as Blainville, John Brown, Calzabigi, Krause, Ortes and Durazzo said much the same thing in condemning the dominance of the singers over every other aspect of serious opera in Italy....


(b Brescia, June 19, 1666; d Brescia, 29 or March 30, 1733). Italian composer and organist. He began musical studies at an early age with Orazio Polaroli (organist of Brescia Cathedral) and spent a short time (c1681–3) serving at the court of the Polish king when Polaroli was its maestro di cappella. After his return to Brescia, Alghisi entered the order of S Filippo Neri without, however, ceasing to compose secular music. From at least 1690 he was maestro di cappella of S Maria della Pace, their church, and in that year he applied, without success, for the position of organist of Brescia Cathedral. A libretto of 1692 refers to him as maestro di cappella of the Brescian Collegio dei Nobili and the title-page to his Sonate da camera describes him as a member of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna. In the libretto for his oratorio ...