The Neapolitan composer Leonardo Vinci represented to posterity by two jovial caricatures and a grisly 19th-century portrait, produced a string of successful operas during a brief career of little more than a decade. He died mysteriously amid rumors of poison, and was hailed by connoisseurs of the later 18th century as one of the originators of the modern Classical style.
According to Charles Burney, Vinci seems to have been the first opera composer who, without degrading his art, rendered it the friend, though not the slave to poetry, by simplifying and polishing melody and calling the audience’s attention to the voice part by liberating it from fugue, complication, and labored contrivance.
Further, Burney maintained that Vinci's strong commitment to poetry caused him to forge a new musical style, making him one of the most innovative and influential composers of the 18th century. It was with the ultimate poet of the dramma per musica, Pietro Metastasio, that Vinci produced his greatest works—Didone abbandonata, Siroe re di Persia, Catone in Utica, Semiramide riconosciuta, Alessandro nell'Indie, and Artaserse.
After the composer's death in 1730, his mantle was taken up by his disciple Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, whose music carried the Vinci style to all corners of the world.
In this comprehensive and seminal study of one the early geniuses of opera, Kurt Markstrom describes in careful and loving detail, the qualities in Vinci's work that reflected the monumental stylistic changes occurring in the early 1700s in Italy. This important volume should take its place on the shelves of all scholars and amateurs of opera.