Johann Adolf Hasse
(1699-1783)

 

German composer. Hasse travelled in Italy during the 1720s, spending most of his time at Naples, where he received tuition from Alessandro Scarlatti. His success in serious and comic opera was rapid, and his operas were soon performed throughout Italy and in parts of Germany as well.
In 1731, Hasse moved to Dresden to take the position of Kapellmeister, but he continued to provide new works for Italian theatres, especially in Venice. Many of his roles were performed by the famous soprano, Faustina Bordoni, who sang her debut at Dresden just after Hasse's arrival there.
During the early part of his career, Hasse had regularly set librettos by Metastasio, but always in an altered form. However, after 1743, Hasse became a close friend of Metastasio and began to set his latest librettos without any alterations. He also revised and recomposed his earlier Metastasio operas in order to comply with the original versions.
Hasse left Dresden at the outbreak of the Seven Years War, moving first to Italy (1757-60) and then to Vienna (1760-62). During that time he continued to write new works for the Saxon court, which had moved to Warsaw. The war over, Hasse returned to Dresden in 1763 to find that the musical life of the city had been crushed. He moved on to Vienna in the following year, and remained there for around eight years before retiring to Venice.
In 1771 he suffered a humiliation when his last opera Ruggiero was less well received than a work by the very young Mozart (Ascanio in Alba). Much of his later work was church music. His opera Cleofide (an early setting of Metastasio's Alessandro nel Indie) has been recorded and suggests that this composer is well worth reviving.