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Alessandro Scarlatti

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(1660 – 1725)

Alessandro Scarlatti (2 May 1660 – 24 October 1725) was a Baroque composer especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.

Scarlatti was born in Sicily, either in Trapani or Palermo. He is generally said to have been a pupil of Giacomo Carissimi in Rome, and there is reason to suppose that he had some connection with northern Italy, since his early works show the influence of Alessandro Stradella and Giovanni Legrenzi.

The production at Rome of his opera Gli Equivoci nell’amore (1679) gained him the protection of Queen Christina of Sweden (who at the time was living in Rome), and he became her maestro di cappella. In February 1684 he became maestro di cappella to the viceroy of Naples, through the influence of his sister, an opera singer, who was the mistress of an influential Neapolitan noble. Here he produced a long series of operas, remarkable chiefly for their fluency and expressiveness, as well as other music for state occasions.

In 1702 Scarlatti left Naples and did not return until the Spanish domination had been superseded by that of the Austrians. In the interval he enjoyed the patronage of Ferdinand III of Tuscany, for whose private theatre near Florence he composed operas, and of Cardinal Ottoboni, who made him his maestro di cappella, and procured him a similar post at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in 1703.

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