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 Nicolò Isouard

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Nicolò Isouard

  • Original Name Nicolas
  • Birth 30 May 1775 Valletta, Southern Harbour, Malta
  • Death 23 Mar 1818 Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
  • Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
  • Plot Division 12.
  • Memorial ID 87178719

Composer. A Maltese-born musician active primarily in France, he enjoyed wide popularity during the Napoleonic era. His operatic fairy tale "Cendrillon" ("Cinderella", 1810) was an international hit before it was eclipsed by Rossini's opera on the same subject, "La Cenerentola" (1817). Nicholas Isouard was born in Valletta, Malta. He studied music in Italy and was strongly influenced by the Neopolitan classical style of Domenico Cimarosa. Beginning with "L'avviso a Maritati" (1794) he composed several Maltese operas, including a version of "The Barber of Seville" (1796) that never reached the continent, and from 1795 he held the dual posts as organist of Valletta's Church of St. John of Jerusalem and music director for the Church of St. John of Malta. In June 1798, Napoleon invaded Malta and abolished the ruling Order of the Knights of St. John; this left Isouard without a job, so he accepted an appointment from the occupation government as Theatre Commissioner. Within weeks the British Navy blockaded Malta and Isouard found himself trapped in besieged Valletta with other Napoleon supporters. Over the next two years he nearly starved to death. In September 1800 the French finally withdrew and Isouard went with them, settling in Paris. French musicians he had befriended in Malta introduced him to violinist and composer Rodolphe Kreutzer, with whom he wrote the operas "Le petit page" (1800) and "Flaminius à Corinthe" (1801); to better capitalize on the Parisian taste for Italian comedy he changed his first name to Nicolò. "Michel-Ange" (1802) was his first solo success and from then on he was an important presence at the Paris Opéra-Comique, writing some 30 operas for the company; among them was a playful tribute to the idol of his student days, "Cimarosa" (1808). The one-act buffa "The Bourgeois Rendezvous" (1807) was especially popular. "Cendrillon" marked the beginning of his mature period, in which he seasoned his comedies with more dramatic elements and a comparably expressive lyricism. It culminated with what many consider his two masterpieces, "Jeannot et Colin" (1814) and "Joconde" ("Mona Lisa", 1814). After the restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy (1815) Isouard went into decline, though this had more to do with personal circumstances than the change in political situation. In pre-war Malta he had a reputation as a party animal, and with money and fame he revelled in a debauched lifestyle that eventually ruined his health. He also grew bitter at being passed over for important positions, including a professorship at the Paris Conservatory. The final blow was when his chief rival at the Comique, Francois-Adrien Boieldieu, defeated him for election to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in late 1817. He turned reclusive and died a few months later at 42, leaving the opera "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp" unfinished. It was completed by others and performed in 1822. Originally interred in the crypt of the Church of Notre Dame des Victoires, he was later reburied at Pere Lachaise, the cemetery Napoleon had founded. "The Bourgeois Rendezvous" and "Joconde" survived in the French repertory until the early 1930s; "Cendrillon" has been recorded and occasionally revived. A street in Paris is named for Isouard and his bust can be seen on the facade of the Salle Favart, home of the Opéra-Comique.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 21 Mar 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 87178719
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Nicolò Isouard (30 May 1775–23 Mar 1818), Find A Grave Memorial no. 87178719, citing Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .