Italian composer, best known for comic opera but also prolific in opera seria. Cimarosa grew up in Naples, where his first opera Le stravaganze del conte was performed in 1772. His comic intermezzos soon established his popularity in Rome, and by 1778 his operas were heard there as well. His operas were perhaps most warmly received at La Scala in Milan, where they were performed well into the 19th century. Cimarosa became maestro di cappella at the court of Catherine II at St Petersburg in 1787, and on his journey there he established links with the court at Vienna. His time at St Petersburg was not particularly successful, and in 1791 he returned to Vienna and took the post of Kapellmeister. While in Vienna, Cimarosa enjoyed much greater popularity, particularly for Il matrimonio segreto (1792).
Cimarosa returned to Naples in 1792, where he continued to write new operas as well as reworking old ones; his Gli Orazi ed i Curiazi (see Horaces) was one of the most advanced serious operas of its time. He was imprisoned in 1796 after the fall of the Parthenopean Republic, and upon his release in 1800 he moved to Venice, where he spent the last years of his life.