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The Early Years - Sicily



Antonino Francesco Domenico Felice Carmine Riggio (o Reggio) was born in Aci Catena on the 8th January 1725.

               His father was Gioacchino and mother was  Isabella Giorni. On the following day he was baptised in the church of  Maria SS. della Catena and his godfather was Don Andrea Riggio Barone di Melinventre e Principe della Catena.

There appears to be two spellings of the family name; Reggio and Riggio. The spelling of Riggio seems to be used in Sicilian sources although both spellings are used simultaneously. The family home of Luigi in Aci Catena is referred to as the Palazzo Riggio. I have standardized on the use of the spelling Reggio.

When Antonino was eight his father died, leaving his widowed mother with twelve children. It is believed that his mother went to live with her family. It is possible that Antonino went to live with his godfather, Andrea Reggio. Don Andrea had married Antonino’s sister, Antonina. When he was old enough to enter the church it is possible he was in a seminary in Palermo.

The reasoning behind this is that between 1745 and 1750 Antonino composed his first works, the manuscripts for which are annotated with dates, names and places. Many of these early manuscripts are dedicated to members of the Palermo nobility and several manuscripts both of his own works and copies he made of contemporary composers are annotated ‘in Palermo’.

Antonino would probably have been ordained as a priest in 1749/50. He claimed the status of Abate with the monastery of Sant’Angelo di Brolo, a ‘benefici ecclesiastici’ in the region of Messina in Sicily, probably through the intervention of his cousin, Don Adrea

With regard to Antonino’s compositions his early works were composed during the period 1745-1750 in the years prior to his ordination as priest. These works are mainly sacred including masses, oratorios, cantatas, motets and sacred songs. The cantatas and songs were composed for various members of the Sicilian nobility. 


Issue 1. 11/1/11                                                           Anthony Hart  2011