Carlo Evasio Soliva
) was a Swiss
composer of opera, chamber music, and sacred choral works. A contemporary of Gioacchino Rossini
, he is best known for his 1816 opera La testa di bronzo
which prompted Stendhal
’s immediate enthusiasm: “Ce petit Soliva a la figure chétive d'un homme de génie.” (“That little Soliva has the scanty figure of a man of genius.”) After a life spent composing, teaching and conducting in Italy, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and France he died in Paris at the age of 62.
Soliva was born in Casale Monferrato
to a family of Swiss chocolatiers who had emigrated from the canton Ticino
He studied pianoforte and composition at the Milan Conservatory, coming top of his class in the latter.
In 1815 he became a conductor at the Teatro alla Scala
, Milan and the following year that opera house staged his first opera, La testa di bronzo o sia La capanna solitaria
. Its immediate and resounding success marked the apex of his popularity. In 1817 his second opera, Berenice d'Armenia
received its premiere in Turin and his third, La zingara delle Asturie
played at La Scala. Neither were received with great warmth and in the following year at La Scala Giulia e Sesto Pompeo
was quite a fiasco.
In 1821 he moved to Poland and became director of singing at the conservatory in Warsaw. There he married one of his students, Maria Kralewska, and became friendly with Frédéric Chopin. He was the conductor in November 1830 for the first performance of Chopin’s piano concerto in E minor. In the turmoil which followed the defeat of the November Uprising, Soliva moved to St Petersburg where he took up posts as conductor of the Royal Chapel and director of the Imperial Singing School and had contact with Mikhail Glinka.
In 1841 he moved to the Ticinese village of Semione, the village in the Val di Blenio where his father had been born.
Subsequently he moved to Paris where he met Chopin again along with George Sand and probably moved in the circle of Cristina di Belgiojoso—he dedicated a Salve Regina to her husband.
- La testa di bronzo o sia La capanna solitaria, libretto by Felice Romani. 3 March, 1816, Teatro alla Scala, Milan
- Berenice d'Armenia , libretto by J. Ferretti. March 1817, Teatro Regio, Turin
- La zingara delle Asturie, libretto by Felice Romani. 5 August, 1817, Teatro alla Scala, Milan
- Giulia e Sesto Pompeo , libretto by B. Perotti. 24 February, 1818, Teatro alla Scala, Milan
- Elena e Malvina, libretto by Felice Romani. 22 May, 1824, Teatro alla Scala, Milan
- Kitaijskaja djewaschka. 1833[?], St Petersburg