Niccolò Piccinni

(Bari – Italy, 1728 – Passy – France, 1800)

Like Sacchini, Piccinni studied at the Conservatorio Sant’Onofrio in Naples with Leonardo Leo and even Durante.

In 1760 he wrote an opera buffa, La Cecchina ossia La buona figliuola, that remained famous for a long time throughout Europe. In 1766 Queen Marie Antoinette called him to Paris, where he very successful, so much so that he became involved in one of the great quarrels of the history of music. In this controversy, he was the antagonist to Gluck in the operatic treatment of the same subject – l’Ifigenia in Tauride, and it divided the public into two factions: ‘gluckists’ and ‘piccinists’.

When the revolution broke out in ’89, he returned to Naples but he fell out of favor with the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV. After a decade of privations he return to Paris in 1798 where he was once again greeted with enthusiasm, but he died two years later in France at Passy.

Piccinni was an insatiable writer of operas – we know of more than a hundred operas written by him– and he occupies an absolutely pivotal place in the opera world of the second half of the 1700’s whether it be Italian or French.


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