The real treasure of the Conservatorio di Musica San Pietro a Majella is the library, which houses an astounding collection of musical scores. Combining the libraries of the various constituent conservatories with important donations of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, it has historical materials of a sort not usually found in music schools. And by a fortunate circumstance, the Bourbon kings of Naples decreed that no opera should be performed in any theater in the city without a copy being deposited in the Conservatory library, a decree that was reiterated through the Napoleonic era and down to the unification of Italy.
The result is that the library contains thousands of scores of operas: not only those composed in Naples, including many autographs, but everything performed there, from Alessandro Scarlatti down to Giuseppe Verdi.
Naples is considered by many to be the place opera really comes from. Yes, it may have been invented in Tuscany; yes, it may have been improved in Venice and Rome; but it is really in Naples that it grew, and it is from the Naples of the seventeenth and eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that most of the composers and singers, trained at the Conservatory, spread the tradition of Neapolitan opera over all of Europe.




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