A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Generali, Pietro

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GENERALI, Pietro, born Oct. 4, 1783, at Masserano, near Vercelli. His real name was Mercandetti, but his father becoming bankrupt changed his name and removed to Rome. Pietro studied music under Giovanni Massi, a pupil of Durante, and soon wrote masses and church music. In 1800 he produced his first opera, 'Gli Amanti ridicoli,' after which he travelled to Southern Italy, and coming back to Rome in 1801 composed a cantata, 'Roma Liberata,' and two operas, 'Il Duca Nottolone' and 'La Villana al cimento.' These were followed by 'Le Gelosie di Giorgio' (Bologna 1802); 'Pamela nubile' and 'La Calzolaja' (Venice 1803); 'Misantropia e pentimento,' after a play of Kotzebue's; 'Gli Effetti della somiglianza' (ibid 1805); and 'Don Chisciotto' (Milan 1805). These are for the most part opere buffe; and an attempt at opera semi-seria, 'Orgoglio e Umiliazione' (Venice), was a failure. In 1807 he wrote 'L'Idolo Cinese' for San Carlo, and 'Lo Sposo in Bersaglio' for Florence. Many other comic operas were well received in Venice, especially 'Adelina,' a farce, 'La Moglie di tre mariti,' and his chef-d'œuvre 'I Baccanali di Roma' (Venice 1815). In the meantime Rossini had come to the front, and Generali's popularity suffered. After several doubtful successes he withdrew to Novara, and accepted the post of maestro di capella to the cathedral. In his retirement he studied Rossini's style, appropriating as much of it as he could; and in 1827 reappeared, first at Trieste and then at Venice, where his 'Francesca di Rimini ' (Dec. 26, 1829) was a total failure. He returned to Novara, and died there Nov. 3, 1832. His operas number in all more than 45. Generali's reputation, says Fétis, rests on his having been the first to employ certain harmonies and modulations of which Rossini took advantage. In fact he was the true precursor of Rossini, but the latter possessed genius, while Generali had only talent. An 'Elogio' of him by C. Piccoli was published at Novara in 1833.

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