Francesco Feo
Francesco Feo was an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 composer, known chiefly for his opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

s. He was born and died in Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, where most of his operas were premièred.


Feo studied music at the Conservatorio di Santa Maria della Pietà
Music Conservatories of Naples
The Music Conservatory of Naples is a music institution in Naples, southern Italy. It is currently located in the complex of San Pietro a Majella.-San Pietro a Majella:...

in Naples, starting on 3 September 1704. Among the other composers he met there were Leonardo Leo
Leonardo Leo
Leonardo Leo , more correctly Lionardo Oronzo Salvatore de Leo, was an Italian Baroque composer.-Biography:...

, Giuseppe de Majo
Giuseppe de Majo
Giuseppe de Majo was an Italian composer and organist. He was the father of the composer Gian Francesco de Majo. His compositional output consists of 10 operas, an oratorio, a concerto for 2 violins, and a considerable amount of sacred music.-Life and career:Born in Naples, Majo spent most of his...

 (who would later marry his niece), and Niccolò Jommelli
Niccolò Jommelli
Niccolò Jommelli was an Italian composer. He was born in Aversa and died in Naples. Along with other composers mainly in the Holy Roman Empire and France, he made important changes to opera and reduced the importance of star singers.-Early life:Jommelli was born to Francesco Antonio Jommelli and...

. His first teacher was Andrea Basso, and after 1705 Nicola Fago
Nicola Fago
Nicola Fago was an Italian Baroque composer and teacher.-Biography:Born in Taranto, he studied music at the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini in Naples between 1693 and 1695. Between 1704 and 1708 he worked at the Conservatorio Sant´Onofrio...

, who had only just been appointed. Feo remained at the conservatory until some time around 1712.

In 1713 he presented his first opera, L’amor tirannico, ossia Zenobia (Tyrannical Love, or Zenobia), and for carnival 1714 Il martirio di Santa Caterina (The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Egypt), an oratorio. His fame began to increase with sacred works for local churches, such as his Missa defunctorum (Requiem Mass) in 1718, and with his recitatives, arias and comic scenes for performances of operas by other composers when they were staged in Naples. In 1719 Feo wrote La forza della virtù (The Power of Virtue), and then his opera seria
Opera seria
Opera seria is an Italian musical term which refers to the noble and "serious" style of Italian opera that predominated in Europe from the 1710s to c. 1770...

Teuzzone in 1720. Real fame only came with his opera seria Siface, re di Numidia (Syphax, King of Numidia), for the Teatro San Bartolomeo in 1723. The libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 was the first attempt at dramma per musica
Dramma per musica
Dramma per musica is a term which was used by dramatists in Italy and elsewhere between the late-17th and mid-19th centuries...

 by the 25-year-old Pietro Metastasio, who had just arrived in Naples.

With his increasing popularity, Feo was appointed as a teacher in the Conservatorio di Sant'Onofrio a Porta Capuana
Music Conservatories of Naples
The Music Conservatory of Naples is a music institution in Naples, southern Italy. It is currently located in the complex of San Pietro a Majella.-San Pietro a Majella:...

, where he worked alongside Gabriele Prota and took over from Nicola Grillo. In the next sixteen years he became known as one of the most important teachers in Naples. Among his students at Sant'Onofrio were Nicola Sabatino
Nicola Sabatino
Nicola Sabatino was an Italian composer.Sabatino was born in Naples and became one of the late baroque Neapolitan composers centred on the Music conservatories of Naples and the opera at the Teatro di San Carlo typified by Porpora, Leonardo Leo, Francesco Durante...

, Nicolò Jommelli, Matteo Capranica
Matteo Capranica
Matteo Capranica was an Italian composer. Born in Amatrice, Capranica studied at the Conservatorio di Sant'Onofrio a Porta Capuana in Naples under Nicola Porpora, Ignazio Prota, and Francesco Feo. After completing his studies he worked as maestro di cappella at various churches in Naples and...

, and Gennaro Manna
Gennaro Manna
Gennaro Manna was an Italian composer based in Naples. His compositional output includes 13 operas and more than 150 sacred works, including several oratorios.-References:...

. In 1739 he left Sant'Onofrio to teach at the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo, to replace Francesco Durante
Francesco Durante
Francesco Durante was an Italian composer.He was born at Frattamaggiore, in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, and at an early age he entered the Conservatorio dei poveri di Gesù Cristo, in Naples, where he received lessons from Gaetano Greco. Later he became a pupil of Alessandro Scarlatti at the...

 who had just retired. Francesco would stay there until 1743, helped by Alfonso Caggi and later Girolamo Abos
Girolamo Abos
Girolamo Abos, last name also given Avos or d'Avossa and baptized Geronimo Abos , was a Maltese-Italian composer of both operas and church music....

. During his time there, he taught Giacomo Insanguine
Giacomo Insanguine
Giacomo Antonio Francesco Paolo Michele Insanguine was an Italian composer, organist, and music educator....

 and Gian Francesco de Majo
Gian Francesco de Majo
Gian Francesco de Majo was an Italian composer. He is chiefly known for his more than 20 operas. He also composed a considerable amount of sacred works, including oratorios, cantatas, and masses.-Life and career:...


Feo wrote most of his oratorios between 1723 and 1743, along with a good portion of his cantatas and much other sacred music. His best-known oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

 was San Francesco Salesio, Apostolo del Chablais (Saint Francis de Sales, the Apostle of Chablais, 1734), which would be performed many times in the next twenty years or so throughout Italy. For Rome and Turin he wrote another six opere serie and several intermezzi. Just as his friend Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was an Italian composer, violinist and organist.-Biography:Born at Iesi, Pergolesi studied music there under a local musician, Francesco Santini, before going to Naples in 1725, where he studied under Gaetano Greco and Francesco Feo among others...

 was commissioned in 1734-35 by the Cavalieri della Vergine dei Dolori to write a new Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Roman Catholic hymn to Mary. It has been variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III...

 to replace the now unfashionable one written by Alessandro Scarlatti
Alessandro Scarlatti
Alessandro Scarlatti was an Italian Baroque composer especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.-Life:Scarlatti was born in...

, so Feo was commissioned to replace Scarlatti's St. John Passion. Feo composed the serenate Oreste and Polinice for Madrid in 1738, and for the Fathers of the Holy Cross in Prague he wrote the oratorio La distruzione dell’esercito dei Cananei con la morte di Sisara (The Destruction of the Canaanite Army and the Death of Sisara, 1739). His last opera, Arsace, was performed in Turin for the reopening of the Teatro Regio in 1740. His last oratorio, Ruth, was performed at Rome in 1743.

In 1743, the Poveri di Gesù Cristo was abolished and converted into a seminary. Feo retired from teaching, but continued to compose sacred music for Neapolitan churches, including the Santissima Annunziata
Santissima Annunziata
The Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata Maggiore is a church in Naples in southern Italy.The Annunziatas origins goes back to 1320 and has always been, in one form or another, an orphanage. Remade a first time in the early 16th century, by the mid 17th century, it was a full-fledged home, church,...

, where he become maestro di cappella in 1726. His last autograph composition is a Quoniam tu solus sanctus (For Thou alone art holy), 1760, for tenor and strings.


  • L'amor tirannico, ossia Zenobia (1713)
  • Lucio Papirio (1717)
  • La forza della virtù (1719)
  • Teuzzone (1720)
  • Siface, re di Numidia (1723)
  • Morano e Rosina (1723)
  • Don Chisciotte della Mancia (1726)
  • Coriando lo speciale (1726)
  • Ipermestra (1728)
  • Arianna (1728)
  • Tamese (1729)
  • Il vedovo (1729)
  • Andromaca (1730)
  • L'Issipile (1733)
  • Oreste (1738)
  • Polinice (1738)
  • Arsace (1740)

  • Passio secundum Joannem (St. John Passion).
  • Mass. Confitebor a 5.


  • The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, by John Warrack and Ewan West (1992), 782 pages, ISBN 0-19-869164-5

External links

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