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Mercadante, Saverio
Saverio Mercadante
September 17, 1795 – December 17, 1870

Opera music changed dramatically during Italian composer Saverio Mercadante’s time. Previously operatic works were flamboyant, expansive, and in some ways, overblown. Mercadante’s operatic compositions approached writing with more control, and became known as part of opera’s reform movement.

Mercadante originally studied music in Naples, where he practiced flute and violin, and learned composition. His first pieces were instrumental ensembles, however he later shifted to composing operas. It was his Elisa e Cladio that captured the attention of Italian critics.

Brief journeys abroad led him to a position in Novara for seven years. It was at this time that Mercadante birthed the reformed style for which he is known. This style focused more on supporting the story itself, and omitted incidental flourishes. He took an appointment as director in Bologna, and then Naples, where he stayed for the rest of his life. His work diminished thereafter, but his influence on opera at the time, and since, remained strong.

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