Italian composer. He wrote about 100 operas, including Il barbiere di Siviglia/Barber of Seville (1782), which was very successful until it was displaced by Rossini's opera of the same name.
He was born at Taranto. He studied first with Franceso Durante, and later with Cotumacci and Abos at the Conservatorio Sant' Onofrio in Naples 1754–63, and there wrote his first oratorios and church music. With Il ciarlone in 1764, however, he began his successful career as a composer of opera buffa, and over the next 20 years produced many works in Modena, Naples, and Venice. While in the service of the Russian court at St Petersburg 1776–84, he wrote his most famous opera, Il barbiere di Siviglia (after Beaumarchais' Le Barbier de Séville) in 1782, which held the stage until Rossini's setting of the same story in 1816. Back in Naples, he was appointed maestro di cappella and court composer to Ferdinand IV. Summoned to Paris as music director of Napoleon's household in 1802, he remained only a year before returning to his old post in Naples. Modern revivals of such operas as Il barbiere di Siviglia, Nina, and Il Ré Teodoro in Venezia reveal a composer of real charm and vivacity.
WorksOpera about 100, including Il ciarlone (after Goldoni's La pupilla, 1764), I Francesi brillanti, Demetrio (1765), Le finte Contesse (1760), L'idolo cinese, Socrate immaginario (1775), La serva padrona, Il barbiere di Siviglia (after Beaumarchais, 1782), Il mondo della luna (1782), Il Rè Teodoro in Venezia (1784), L'Antigono (1785), Nina, ossia La pazza per amore, La molinara (1789), Proserpine (1803), and others.
Choral oratorios, including La Passione di Gesù Cristo, Christus (1783).
Other cantatas; Masses, two Requiems, Miserere, and other church music; symphonies; concertos; six string quartets, 12 piano quartets; keyboard music.