In the eighteenth century, young boys with musical talent could dream of success as composers. The odds, however, were against them. 
The galant style of music in fashion at princely courts, opera theaters, and urban cathedrals demanded skills far beyond the reach of an amateur. It required not only excellence in counterpoint, figured-bass, orchestration, text-setting, and me-lodic design, but also such a high degree of compositional facility that one’s creations gave the artistic impression of sprezzatura – refined nonchalance.
A lucky few like Mozart or the Bachs were born into professional musical families. For the rest it could be very difficult to find a teacher with the requisite sophistication and connections. 
An exception to this widespread predicament could be found in the southern Italian city of Naples. There the art of music flourished under the lavish patronage of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. On his name day of November 4, 1737, Charles VII (later Charles III of Spain) gave Naples what was then the largest opera house in the world (3,300 seats), and the oldest one still functioning, the Teatro di San Carlo. 
As the crown jewel among theaters, it presented only serious opera and attracted the greatest composers of the age. Other Neapolitan theaters presented comic opera and lighter musical entertainments. So many productions were staged, so many court concerts were scheduled, and so much elaborate sacred music was required at the dozens of magnificent churches that Naples might soon have run out of musicians had it not been for its four conservatories.




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