Musician of the week: Alessandro Scarlatti

Although nothing is known about his childhood, we do know that the Scarlatti family moved to Rome in 1672 and that, six years later, Alessandro went to live with his wife, Antonia María Vittoria, in the palace of the architect and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. , the great protagonist of the Roman Baroque.

It is also possible that, thanks to the influential patronage of the Neapolitan artist, Scarlatti began a rapid career serving the most important churches and cardinal families, until he was discovered and invited by Queen Christina of Sweden to join her splendid Roman court.

At the age of twenty-three, Alessandro Scarlatti was already considered one of the most important composers in Italy, and some of his patrons helped him in the ambitious project of setting out to conquer one of the main theater squares of the time: Naples.

In Il giardino d’amore written by Alessandro Scarlatti between 1700 and 1705, the recurring theme is the love between Venus and Adonis, who, according to custom, take the forests, the winds, the birds, the springs as witnesses of their passionate love.

Alessandro Scarlatti was no stranger to all the political interests that were used to reach positions of relevance within the courts. The story of how he took a good position in Naples is very eloquent.

Scarlatti officially arrived in Naples to take over the direction of the San Bartolomeo opera house, where his operas were already being performed. But after a few months he was hired as master of the Royal Chapel of the palace together with some of his collaborating musicians. It is said that he achieved this position thanks to the intrigues of one of his sisters (apparently Melchiorra) with two court officials who were later fired.

That appointment, decided by the viceroy without respecting custom, triggered a vehement protest from the musicians of the Chapel, who supported the choice of the sixty-year-old Neapolitan Francesco Provenzale.

Although he remained in close contact with his patrons in Rome, Alessandro Scarlatti nonetheless seemed to settle well in Naples. However, thanks to the extraordinary boost given to the arts and shows by Viceroy Del Carpio, he wrote religious compositions for numerous churches in the city, serenades and commemorative cantatas for the summer festivals and, above all, thirty operas that spread his name throughout the city. Europe and allowed Naples for the first time to rival Venice as the capital of opera.

Alessandro Scarlatti’s activity proved to be extraordinarily fruitful in all fields. No composer of his time wrote so many operas, chamber cantatas for one or more voices; it is in religious music that Scarlatti is best seen as departing from the more archaic tradition of the Neapolitan baroque masters represented by Provenzale and his disciples and successors, such as Greco and Fago.

Alessandro Scarlatti’s contribution was also decisive in the instrumental field, since in Naples almost no orchestral production existed before him, despite the fact that the great instrumental virtuosos, like their singing colleagues, the castrati, were spreading all over Europe.

In the years preceding his death on October 24, 1725, Alessandro Scarlatti devoted himself above all to teaching and received homage from many great European musicians, some of whom went to Naples to meet him.

You can listen to the best compositions of Alessandro Scarlatti next October 24 in our program The musician of the week at 3:00 pm on the HJCK live signal.

We want to thank the writer of this short article for this incredible material

Musician of the week: Alessandro Scarlatti