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Gennaro Astarita

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Gennaro Astarita (also spelled Astaritta) (c.1745–49 – 18 December 1805) was an Italian composer, mainly of operas. The place of his birth is unknown, although he was active in Naples for many years. He began his operatic career in 1765, collaborating with Niccolò Piccinni in the writing of the opera L'orfana insidiata. He became the maestro di cappella in Naples in 1770.
Astaritta is also considered to have played an important role in the development of opera in Russia. He first visited the country in 1781 and by 1784 he had become the director of Moscow's Petrovsky Theatre (the predecessor of the Bolshoi Theatre). In 1794, Prince Nicolai Yusupov, who at the time was the director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg, asked him to bring an Italian opera troupe to the city, which he did in 1796. Astarita ran the troupe until 1799. Amongst the singers he recruited was Teresa Saporiti, who had created the role of Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni.
He wrote over 35 operas, most of them in the opera buffa genre. Although forgotten now, in their day they were well regarded and performed all over Italy, as well as in Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal, and Russia. He also wrote ballet and sacred music.
He died at Rovereto.