Giovanni Paisiello

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Paisiello on the harpsichord , with the score by Nina, o la pazza d'amore , painting by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun , 1791

Giovanni Paisiello (also "Paesiello"; born May 9, 1740 in Taranto , † June 5, 1816 in Naples ) was an Italian composer of the Neapolitan school . His main field was the opera .


Paisiello was the son of a veterinarian from Taranto and, destined to study law , did the preliminary studies in the Jesuit college, but at the age of 13 he entered the Conservatorio Sant'Onofrio in Naples , where he went to work under the direction of Francesco Durante , Carlo Cotumacci and Girolamo Abos trained as a musician for nine years.

After first writing a number of masses , oratorios , psalms and other works, he tried his hand at dramatic composition. In 1763 his "dramatic interlude " was performed at the Conservatory , which revealed his talent for opera buffa . The theaters quickly took on him: three operas were performed in Parma, two in Bologna; others in Florence, Modena and Rome followed. However, he was only counted among the first composers in Italy when he was also successful in Naples in 1767 with L'idolo Cinese (where Niccolò Piccinni had set the tone until then ). He began to develop such a fruitful activity as an opera composer that in a few years he had no competitor in Europe apart from Domenico Cimarosa .

In 1776 he followed a call from Tsarina Catherine II to Saint Petersburg , where he was appointed conductor and inspector of the two Italian operas and remained in service until 1784. For Petersburg he wrote nine new operas, including Il barbiere di Siviglia based on the comedy Le Barbier de Séville by Beaumarchais . During his return journey, at the request of the King of Poland , he wrote a Te Deum and the oratorio La Passione di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo after Pietro Metastasio in Warsaw, and in Vienna on behalf of Joseph II. Twelve symphonies ( overtures ) and the opera Il Re Teodoro in Venezia based on a libretto by Giovanni Battista Casti .

Paisiello interrupted his return trip from Petersburg to Italy in Vienna and met Mozart for the second time in 1784 . In Italy, Paisiello settled in Naples and directed the court orchestra of King Ferdinand IV. When the revolution broke out in 1799, he knew how to get on well with the republican government and kept his position as director of national music. As a result, however, he fell out of favor with the king and had to wait two years after his return until he was again accepted. In 1802 he followed a request from Napoleon , who had already awarded him five years earlier for a funeral cantata for the commemoration of General Hoche , to move to Paris to organize and lead his chapel . There he was treated so courteously by Napoleon that his presence was met with disfavor and reluctance by some musicians, for example Luigi Cherubini .

Since his operas were not well received, he turned back to Naples a year later, having written many church music for the chapel of the First Consul. There he was able to take up his old position as director of the conservatory and royal chapel, which had been set up on the French model in place of the earlier music schools, and which he also retained under Joseph Bonaparte and Joachim Murat . In 1809 Paisiello was accepted as a foreign member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts . The restoration of the Bourbon rule in 1815 (see also Congress of Vienna ) deprived him of his position and the lucrative additional income; on June 5, 1816 he died indebted and in poor circumstances.

His grave monument of Angelo Viva is in the church of Santa Maria Donnalbina in Naples.


Paisiello has written over 100 operas, a passion oratorio, a Christmas pastoral, two requiums , three large orchestral masses, about 30 smaller four-part masses and a two-part Te Deum . In addition, he created a number of works of instrumental music: twelve symphonies, eight piano concertos , a harp concerto, twelve piano quartets , six string quartets , and a sonata for harp.


Of his operas, which are characterized by the magic of melodies and the dramatic clout of the Neapolitan school, the longest stayed on the repertoire:

Chronological index of his operas

  • Il ciarlone (May 12, 1764 Bologna)
  • I francesi brillanti (June 24, 1764 Bologna)
  • Madama l'umorista, o Gli stravaganti (January 26, 1765 Modena)
  • L'amore in ballo (Carnival 1765 Venice, Teatro San Moisè )
  • I bagni d'Abano (spring 1765 Parma)
  • Demetrio (Lent 1765 Modena)
  • Il negligente (1765 Parma)
  • Le virtuose ridicole (1765 Parma)
  • Le nozze disturbate (Carnival 1766 Venice, Teatro San Moisè)
  • Le finte contesse (February 1766 Rome, Teatro Valle ) [Il Marchese di Tulissano?]
  • La vedova di bel genio (Spring 1766 Naples, Teatro Nuovo )
  • L'idolo cinese (Spring 1767, Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Lucio Papirio (Summer 1767, Naples, Teatro San Carlo )
  • Il furbo malaccorto (Winter 1767 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Le 'mbroglie de la Bajasse (1767 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini )
  • Alceste in Ebuda, ovvero Olimpia (January 20, 1768 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • Festa teatrale in musica (May 31, 1768 Naples, Palazzo Reale ) [Le nozze di Peleo e Tetide]
  • La luna abitata (Naples summer 1768, Teatro Nuovo)
  • La finta maga per vendetta (Autumn - 1768 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • L'osteria di Marechiaro (Winter 1768 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • Il nuovo maestro di cappella
  • La serva fatta padrona (Naples summer 1769, Teatro dei Fiorentini) [rev. Le 'mbroglie de la Bajasse]
  • Don Chisciotte della Mancia (Naples summer 1769, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • L'arabo cortese (Winter 1769 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • La Zelmira, o sia La marina del Granatello (Summer 1770 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Le trame per amore (October 7, 1770 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Annibale in Torino (January 16, 1771 Turin, Teatro Regio )
  • La somiglianza de 'nomi (Spring 1771 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • I scherzi d'amore e di fortuna (Summer 1771 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Artaserse (December 26, 1771 Modena)
  • Semiramide in villa (Carnival 1772 Rome, Teatro Capranica )
  • Montezuma (January 1772 Rome, Teatro delle Dame )
  • La Dardanè (Spring 1772, Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Gli amanti comici (Autumn 1772 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Don Anchise Campanone (1773 Venice) [rev. Gli amanti comici]
  • L'innocente fortunata (Carnival 1773 Venice, Teatro San Moisè)
  • Sismano nel Mogol (Carnival 1773 Milan, Teatro Regio Ducale )
  • Il tamburo (spring 1773 Naples, Teatro Nuovo) [Il tamburo notturno]
  • Alessandro nell'Indie (December 26, 1773 Modena)
  • Andromeda (Carnival 1774 Milan, Teatro Regio Ducale)
  • Il duello (Spring 1774, Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Il credulo deluso (Autumn 1774 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • La frascatana (Autumn 1774 Venice, Teatro San Samuele ) [L'infante de Zamora]
  • Il divertimento dei numi (December 4, 1774 Naples, Palazzo Reale)
  • Demofoonte (Carnival 1775 Venice, Teatro San Benedetto )
  • La discordia fortunata (Carnival 1775 Venice, Teatro San Samuele) [L'avaro deluso]
  • L'amor ingegnoso, o sia La giovane scaltra (Carnival 1775 Padua)
  • Le astuzie amorose (Spring 1775 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Il Socrate immaginario (Autumn 1775 Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Il gran Cid (November 3, 1775 Florence, Teatro della Pergola )
  • Le due contesse (January 3, 1776 Rome, Teatro Valle)
  • La disfatta di Dario (Carnival 1776 Rome, Teatro Argentina )
  • Dal finto il vero (Spring 1776, Naples, Teatro Nuovo)
  • Nitteti (January 28, 1777 St. Petersburg)
  • Lucinda e Armidoro (Autumn 1777 St. Petersburg)
  • Achille in Sciro (February 6, 1778 St. Petersburg)
  • Lo sposo burlato (July 24, 1778 St. Petersburg)
  • Gli astrologi immaginari (February 14, 1779 St. Petersburg, Hermitage ) [Le philosophe imaginaire]
  • Il matrimonio inaspettato (1779 Kammenïy Ostrov) [La contadina di spirito]
  • La finta amante (June 5, 1780 Mogilev) [Camiletta]
  • Alcide al bivio (December 6, 1780 St. Petersburg, Hermitage)
  • La serva padrona (10th (?) September 1781 Tsarskoye Selo )
  • Il duello comico (1782 Tsarskoye Selo) [rev. Il duello]
  • Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile (September 26, 1782 St. Petersburg)
  • Il mondo della luna (1783 Bolshoi Theater St. Petersburg )
  • Il re Teodoro in Venezia (23 August 1784 Vienna, Burgtheater )
  • Antigono (October 12, 1785 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • La grotta di Trofonio (December 1785 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • Olimpiade (January 20, 1786, Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • Le gare generose (Spring 1786, Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini) [Gli schiavi per amore; Le bon maître, ou L'esclave par amour]
  • Pirro (January 12, 1787 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • Il barbiere di Siviglia, ovvero La precauzione inutile [rev] (1787 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • La modista raggiratrice (Autumn 1787 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini) [La scuffiara amante, o sia Il maestro di scuola napolitano; La scuffiara raggiratrice]
  • Giunone Lucina (September 8, 1787 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • Fedra (January 1, 1788 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • L'amor contrastato (Carnival 1789 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini) La molinara
  • Catone in Utica (February 5, 1789, Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • Nina, o sia La pazza per amore (June 25, 1789 Caserta)
  • Gli zingari in fiera (November 21, 1789 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • Le vane gelosie (Spring 1790 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • Zenobia in Palmira (May 30, 1790 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • La molinara (1790 Vienna) [rev. L'amor contrastato ]
  • Nina, o sia La pazza per amore [rev] (1790 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • Ipermestra (1791 Padua)
  • La locanda (June 16, 1791 London Pantheon: La locanda di falcone; Lo stambo in Berlina)
  • I giuochi d'Agrigento (May 16, 1792 Venice, Teatro La Fenice )
  • Il fanatico in Berlina (1792 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini) [rev. La locanda]
  • Il ritorno d'Idomeneo (autumn 1792 Perugia)
  • Elfrida (November 4, 1792, Naples, Teatro San Carlo) [Adevolto]
  • Elvira (January 12, 1794 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • Didone abbandonata (November 4, 1794 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • Nina, o sia La pazza per amore [rev 2] (1795 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • Chi la dura la vince (June 9, 1797 Milan, Teatro alla Scala )
  • La Daunia felice (June 26, 1797 Foggia, Palazzo Dogana)
  • Andromaca (November 4, 1797 Naples, Teatro San Carlo)
  • L'inganno felice (1798 Naples, Teatro dei Fiorentini)
  • Sinfonia funebre (1799 on the death of Pope Pius VI. )
  • L'isola disabitata ("cantata seria", July 3, 1799 Lisbon, Teatro de São Carlos )
  • Proserpine (March 28, 1803 Paris, Opéra )
  • Elisa (March 19, 1807 Naples, Teatro San Carlo) (+ Mayr )
  • I pittagorici (March 19, 1808, Naples, Teatro San Carlo)


  • Overtures and Symphonies . Orchestra della Svizzera italiana . Dynamic, Genova 2001 (CDS 376).
  • Piano concertos No. 1–8. Pietro Spada (piano & conductor), Orchestra da Camera di Santa Cecilia. Brilliant, DDD, 1992 (2 CDs).
  • Piano Concertos No. 2 & 4 + Proserpine Overture (Naxos 2003: Francesco Nicolosi, Collegium Philarmonicum Chamber Orchestra, Cappabianca)
  • more CDs


  • Alfred Baumgartner: Propylaea World of Music - The Composers - A lexicon in five volumes . tape 4 . Propylaen Verlag, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-549-07830-7 , pp. 234-235 .
  • Nicoleta Paraschivescu: The Partimenti Giovanni Paisiellos. Paths to a practical understanding. Schwabe, Basel 2019, ISBN 978-3-7965-3724-0 . (= Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Scripta, 6.)

Web links

Commons : Giovanni Paisiello  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Paisiello, Giovanni in Dictionnaire Biografico degli Italiani, 2014
  2. a b c d e f g h Clive Unger-Hamilton, Neil Fairbairn, Derek Walters; German arrangement: Christian Barth, Holger Fliessbach, Horst Leuchtmann, et al .: The music - 1000 years of illustrated music history . Unipart-Verlag, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-8122-0132-1 , p. 94 .
  3. Il mondo della luna (Giovanni Paisiello) in the Corago information system of the University of Bologna , accessed on May 30, 2020.
  4. Audio samples for the piano concertos 1–8 at jpc .
  5. Audio samples for the piano concertos 2 and 4 at jpc .
  6. Product overview for Giovanni Paisiello at jpc .