Giovanni Paisiello

Born: Roccaforzata, Italy - 9 May 1741
Died: Naples - 5 June 1816

One of the most significant composers of the late 18th century, and a major influence on the operas of Mozart and Rossini, the Neopolitan Giovanni Paisiello already had a highly successful career in his native Italy when he was invited by Catherine II to come to St. Petersburg in 1776. He would spend eight years in the city, working as court composer and kapellmeister, and as a music tutor to Grand Princess Maria Fyodorvna.

As well as writing music for state occasions and religious ceremonies, Paisiello composed more than 10 operas and interludes while in Russia, including some of his most famous works, among them La Serva Padrona and Il Barbiere di Siviglia, which was the first successful operatic adaptation of Pierre Baumarchais' popular comedy. His works were performed both at court and at public theatres, including the Maly Theatre (on what is now the Field of Mars). His opera Il Mondo Della Luna was the first to be performed at Antonio Rinaldi's Bolshoy Theatre (the forerunner to the Mariinsky Theatre, located on the site of St. Petersburg Conservatory).

Paisiello remained in Russia until 1784, when he returned home to become the court conductor for the King of Naples. Paisiello was an enormously prolific composer, writing 94 operas in total, as well as cantatas, quartets, and symphonies.

Works: Nitteti (1777), Lucinda e Armidoro (1777), Achille in Sciro (1778), Lo sposo burlato (1778), Gli astrologi immaginari (1779), Demetrio (1779), Il matrimonio inaspettato (1779), Alcide al bivio (1780), La serva padrona (1781), Il duello comico (1782), Il barbiere di Siviglia (1782), Il mondo della luna (1782)