Niccolo Antonio Zingarelli


Italian composer. Trained in Naples, he was unusual in concentrating his interest on serious opera. His Montezuma was performed in Naples in 1781 and later revived by Haydn at Eszterháza. From a career in the theatres of Northern Italy producing operas on traditional themes (Ricimero, Armida, Antigono, Ifigenia in Aulide, Artaserse) with traditional librettos (including those by Silvani, Metastasio, etc.) he, like Cherubini, gravitated to Paris.
His Antigone (libretto by Marmontel) was a failure, however, and the revolution made the city inhospitable. He resumed his career in Italy, still concentrating mainly on serious operas in Northern centres including Venice, Florence, and Milan; in the latter city one of his major works and an early example of Shakespeare opera, Giulietta e Romeo, was produced in 1796. A representative rather than original composer, he is significant within the transitional period which ended with the arrival of Rossini; abandoning the theatre, he ended his long life in church music and teaching in Naples, to the last a staunch defender of the 18th-century Neapolitan manner of writing opera seria.