Domenico Cimarosa was the most famous and popular Italian composer of the second half of the eighteenth century. In the course of a brilliantly successful career he composed more than 65 operas as well as a significant body of instrumental music and works for the church. His operas were performed all over Europe both in Italian and in translation. A number of Cimarosa's operas continued to enjoy occasional stagings during the nineteenth century and his most famous work, Il matrimonio segreto, is one of only a handful of operas of the period never to have left the repertory.
Born in 1749 at Aversa, Cimarosa moved with his family to Naples, shortly after his own birth and shortly before the death of his father, a stonemason. His musical gifts, however, enabled him to study at the Conservatorio di S. Maria di Loreto and to embark on a career as a composer of opera in Naples. He subsequently entered the service of Catherine the Great in St Petersburg in 1787, then moving to the imperial service in Vienna in 1791, the year of Mozart's death, and, in 1793, to Naples once more, a city from which he was expelled in 1799, when the monarchy was restored after a brief republican interlude. He spent his final years in Venice, where he died in 1801