Antonio Sacchini


Italian composer, one of the most fertile of a fertile age. His career was fraught with trouble, despite its brilliant start. Born in Florence, he was early taken to Naples and trained there. He was producing operas for Neapolitan theatres by the mid-1750s and soon extended his operations to Rome and then North Italy (Padua, Venice), writing both opera seria and opera; librettists set included Goldoni, Zeno, and Metastasio.
His success in the 1760s was followed by a move to London in 1772, where he was much liked, and his operas continued to appear in Rome. Sacchini spoiled his chances of a good living by excesses and had to fly to Paris in 1781 to escape his creditors. There he soon won the favour of the Queen, Marie-Antoinette; two of his works had already been staged in French versions by Framery.
He revised two Italian operas to the French taste established by Gluck and Piccinni, then wrote Dardanus, to a libretto originally set by Rameau. His masterpiece was Oedipe à Colone (1787), but he died before the stunning success of this piece was assured (it was given at the Opéra over 500 times into the 1820s). Sacchini was renowned for his brilliance and lyricism, and also for a dramatic grip which caused some to associate him with Gluck rather than Piccinni.