Domenico Cimarosa

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Domenico Cimarosa

Domenico Cimarosa (Italian: [doˈmeːniko tʃimaˈrɔːza] (About this soundlisten); 17 December 1749, Aversa, Kingdom of Naples, now Province of Caserta – 11 January 1801, Venice) was an Italian opera composer of the Neapolitan school. He wrote more than eighty operas during his lifetime, including his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto (1792). Cimarosa also wrote numerous instrumental works.

Early life and education[edit]

Cimarosa was born in Aversa in Campania.

Early career[edit]

At the age of twenty-three, Cimarosa wrote an opera buffa called Le stravaganze del conte, first performed at the Teatro del Fiorentini at Naples in 1772. The work met with approval, and was followed in the same year by Le pazzie di Stelladaura e di Zoroastro. This work was also successful, and the fame of the young composer began to spread all over Italy. In 1774, he was invited to Rome to write an opera for the stagione of that year; and there he produced another comic opera called L'italiana in Londra.[1]


Domenico Cimarosa

Over the next thirteen years, Cimarosa wrote a number of operas for the various theatres of Italy, living temporarily in Rome, in Naples, or wherever else his vocation as conductor of his works happened to take him. From 1784 to 1787, he lived in Florence, writing exclusively for the theatre of that city. The productions of this period of his life are very numerous, consisting of operas (both comic and serious), cantatas, and various sacred compositions. These included La ballerina amante, a comic opera first performed at Venice with enormous success.[1][2]

In 1787, Cimarosa went to St. Petersburg by invitation of Empress Catherine II. He remained at her court for four years and wrote a number of compositions. They included a Requiem, entitled Messa da Requiem in G minor. The piece, composed in 1787, was commissioned to mark the death of the wife of the French ambassador in St. Petersburg. In 1792, Cimarosa left St. Petersburg and went to Vienna at the invitation of Emperor Leopold II. Here, he produced his masterpiece, Il matrimonio segreto, which ranks among the greatest examples of opera buffa (Verdi considered it the model opera buffa). In 1793, Cimarosa returned to Naples, where Il matrimonio segreto and other works were received with great acclaim. Among the works belonging to his last stay in Naples is the opera, Le astuzie femminili.[1]

During the occupation of Naples by the troops of the French Republic, Cimarosa joined the liberal party, but on the return of the Bourbons was imprisoned along with many of his political friends. His sentence was commuted to banishment when influential admirers interceded, and he left Naples,but his health was broken and after much suffering he died in Venice on 11 January 1801 of an intestinal inflammation. The nature of his disease led to the rumor of his having been poisoned by his enemies; however, a formal inquest proved this to be unfounded. He worked until the last moment of his life, and one of his operas, Artemisia, remained unfinished at his death.[1]


Palazzo Duodo, Campo Sant'Angelo, Venice: Cimarosa's death place

Studio Lirico, a summer program for opera singers organized by the University of South Carolina, produced, from 1992 to 1995, a number of Cimarosa's operas (for many the first production in modern times) under the artistic direction of Talmage Fauntleroy, stage director, and Nick Rossi, musicologist. In Italy, since 2005 the Tuscan Opera Academy “Domenico Cimarosa” has realized a summer program dedicated to Cimarosa's operas through the artistic and musical direction of Simone Perugini. The Tuscan Opera Academy “Domenico Cimarosa” has organized two projects about the composer: the first one, Centro cimarosiano di Studi, for the publication of the composer's complete works in a critical edition (full score, vocal score and orchestral parts with commentary Foreword); the second, The Opera Workshop, for the production the operas in critical editions by opera singers and instrumentalists with knowledge of the practice of 18th-century Italian music.

Some arias from Cimarosa's operas were collected by Italian nobles in manuscript form: the Venturi Music Collection possesses some of these.


  • Rossi, Nick – Fauntleroy, Talmage – Domenico Cimarosa, his life and his operas / Greenwood Press, 1999
  • Perugini, Simone - Domenico Cimarosa. Nuova raccolta di studi, Accademia Lirica Toscana "Domenico Cimarosa", Florence (Italy), 2016, ISBN 978-1532751028.


  1. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ This opera was also selected for the inauguration of theater S. Carlos in Lisbon, 30th of June 1793. (Source: Le Ménestrel, 2836, year 51 (1885), nr. 32, page 254.)
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cimarosa, Domenico". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • The specific information on the Messa da Requiem in G minor was taken from the liner notes, written by Keith Anderson, for the 2010 Naxos recording of the piece.

External links[edit]