Gaspare Spontini Composer


Born in Italy in 1774 to a modest family, Gaspare Spontini was destined for an ecclesiastical career but studied at the Naples Conservatory instead. A restless and poor student, he left the institution before the end of his studies, which had an impact on his first compositions and thus despite his undeniable artistic temperament.

Attracted by the buzzing Parisian atmosphere, he settled in the French capital in 1803, where he was quickly commissioned several opera-comiques: La Petite Maison and Milton (1804), Julie ou Le Pot de fleurs (1805). A protégé of the Empress, he became her official composer in 1805. But as a man of the theatre, his main ambition was to conquer the lyrical tragedy stage.

In his three great masterpieces (La Vestale, 1807, Fernand Cortez ou La Conquête du Mexique, 1809 and Olympie, 1819), he managed to breathe new life into Gluck’s style thanks to additions coming from the revolutionary music and can, as such, be regarded as a pioneer of the romantic grand opera genre.

Despite his fame, he composed only a few works in France (Pélage ou Le Roi de la paix, 1814 and Les Dieux rivaux, 1816). His work also includes several vocal pieces, a few sacred works and numerous writings.

His opera Olympie obtained critical reviews, which led him to leave Paris, even though he had obtained French citizenship, and moved to Berlin where he composed his four last operas, including Lalla Rookh (1821) and Agnes von Hohenstaufen (1829). After a final stay in France, between 1842 and 1847, he died in his hometown of Maiolati in 1851.

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  • Opéra Bastille
  • from 15 June to 11 July 2024

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