Tommaso Michele Francesco Saverio Traetta

Born: Bitonto, Italy - 30 March 1727
Died: Venice - 6 April 1779

One of a string of celebrated Italian opera composers to serve at the court of Catherine the Great, Tommaso Traetta was born in Southern Italy and studied in Naples with Nicola Porpora (whose other students included Jospeh Haydn and the castrato Farinelli). He had early success with opere serie in Naples and throughout Italy, but became influenced by the French school of opera, especially Jean-Philippe Rameau, while serving as court composer to the Bourbon Duke of Parma.

He came to St. Petersburg to take up the post of court kappelmeister in 1768, and stayed until 1775. At Catherine's behest, he continued to compose mainly in the style of opera seria, often reviving and adapting his earlier works. However, he also produced more groundbreaking and experimental works, including his 1772 masterpiece Antigona. He left St. Petersburg in 1775, although the reasons for his departure are not clear. He moved to London and then to Venice, but was not to match his previous success, and died four years later in 1779. His son, Filippo Traetta, followed in his father's footsteps, and became the composer of the first American opera, as well as founder of conservatories in Boston and Philadelphia.

Works premiered in St. Petersburg: Astrea Placata (1770), Antigona (1772), Amore e Psiche (1773), Lucio Vero (1774)