Alessandro Scarlatti


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

(b Palermo, 1660; d Naples, 1725).

It. composer, specially important in development of opera and considered founder of so‐called Neapolitan school. Taken to Rome 1672, said to have studied with Carissimi, and wrote first opera there 1679. Engaged by Queen Christina of Sweden, then living in Rome, as choirmaster and cond., 1680–4, for her private th. Court cond. to Viceroy of Naples, 1684–1702 and from 1708. Alternated between Rome and Naples for rest of life, in various court and church appointments. Contribution to opera was liberation of dramatic expression. Est. the da capo aria, first in Teodora (1692), the opera in which orch. ritornello is supposedly used for the first time. The so‐called ‘It. ov.’ was introduced in 1696 in a revival of Dal male il bene. In 1685, in L'Olimpia vendicata, occurs the first recorded instance of acc. recit. His greatest opera is reckoned to be Mitridate Eupatore (1707), comp. for Prince Ferdinando de' Medici, but a failure on its f.p. in Venice. In his late Rome years, the general enthusiasm for opera, stimulated by Scarlatti, overcame all ecclesiastical objections. His 115 operas incl. only one comic opera, Il trionfo dell'onore (Naples 1718). Sixty‐four survive, wholly or in part, of which revivals show superb craftsmanship and lofty invention, perhaps the best known being the last, La Griselda (1721). He also wrote some 20 oratorios, 10 masses, several settings of Stabat Mater, etc., over 40 motets, over 600 solo cantatas with basso continuo and 60 with other instr., some 30 chamber cantatas for 2 vv., 28 serenatas, several madrigals, 12 chamber concs., various sonatas, and hpd. pieces, incl. variations on La Folia. Father of Domenico Scarlatti.

Subjects: Music.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.