Born in Catania to a musical family, Giovanni Pacini (1796-1867) composed his first opera at the age of 17. This launched a remarkable career lasting more than half a century: his last opera was given in 1867. During that time, he composed at least 74 operas in addition to sacred works, salon songs, and instrumental music. Although overshadowed by Verdi, Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini, he was second in stature only to them, and his works were performed on stage and in recital by the best singers of the day, including Henriette Meric-Lalande, Giuditta Pasta, Marianna Barbieri-Nini, Rosa Mariani, Carolina Bassi, Giovanni Rubini, Giovanni David, and Luigi Lablache, to name only a few. Generally considered Pacini’s masterpiece, Saffo (1840) was performed all over the world, including in the United States; it was given often in New York. Although his success was greatest in Italy, Pacini’s name was known all over the world during the 19th century. Today, he is all but forgotten. However, recent revivals and recordings have shed more light on his important place in the development of 19th century opera.
PRAISE FOR PACINI
Opera Rara’s Compilation CD, “Pacini Rediscovered”
“What makes the disk so immensely pleasurable is that any preconceptions of mediocrity (for what other reason could there be for such a disregard for the composer?) are mercilessly quashed…On the admittedly limited evidence of this CD, Pacini is a tragically neglected composer.” – Dave Paxton, MusicOMH.com
Opera Rara’s new CD “Paventa Insano”
”Pacini, a composer in need of more advocacy than most...comes over with stunning variety and an unique musical voice. I suspect that it is his [exerpts] that will prove most surprising...the [Allan Cameron] aria-finale forms the single biggest item on the CD and will do much to make Pacini a household name and increase demands to hear more of his music.” – Douglas M. Bennett, the Donizetti Society Journal
Niccolo de' Lapi, Teatro Pagliano, 1873
"But Meyerbeer and Wagner and the Verdi of Forza de Destino, of Don Carlos, of Aida, have found a powerful rival, a true titan, in the immense and stupendous finale of the second act." - La Riforma, October 28, 1873.
Lorenzino de' Medici at the Teatro Pagliano, 1857
"The Carnival season of 1857-8 opened on Tuesday, the 26th of November, with [Lorenzino de' Medici], a superb opera by Pacini, and one that for a time made me stagger in my Verdi faith...It is so fresh, so original, and combines musical science so well with ear-haunting and simple melody, that it appears to me astonishing that it has not obtained a reputation out of Italy." - Dwight’s Journal of Music, July 2, 1858
Opera Rara’s recording of Carlo di Borgogna
“It’s an incredible opera, isn’t it? I didn’t know that Paccini (sic) was really a synonym for Bellini, Donizetti and every bel canto composer combined. I feel that Paccini is a conglomeration of many, different, wonderful and exciting composers.” – mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore, interview in Classical Voice
Opera Rara’s recording of Maria, Regina d’Inghilterra
“Listeners to the recording are likely to find themselves playing straight through from start to finish, chafing at any interruption; and that says something for both the music and the drama.” – John Steane, Gramophone magazine
Saffo at the Academy of Music, New York 1858
Why such a masterpiece lain neglected for so many years is to us a mystery. In a dramatic point of view, it is full of brilliant points and situations, requiring the highest exercise of dramatic skill. Madame Gazzaniga many years ago set Naples in a furore over her rendition of the unfortunate heroine... One could hear all over the house whisperings about its greatness and sublimity... We hope the opera will become a permanent institution in our city. - Dwights Journal of Music, July 3, 1858.