Alessandro Scarlatti


Italian opera composer and member of one of the leading musical families of the period; perhaps the greatest opera composer of his generation. Scarlatti's career began in Rome after he moved there from the family home at Palermo in 1672. His second opera, Gli equivoci nel sembiante (Rome, 1679), brought him widespread acclaim and an appointment as maestro di cappella to Queen Christina of Sweden.
He moved to Naples in 1684 as maestro di cappella to the viceroy an appointment which caused much anger among the viceroy's other musicians. He quickly took advantage of the greater opportunities he found there, and later established a fruitful relationship with the librettist Silvio Stampiglia.
During the next 18 years he wrote over 30 new operas for the Neapolitan stage, and revised several more which had been imported from Venice. Many of his new works were highly successful, including Pirro e Demetrio (Naples, 1694) and La caduta de' Decemviri (Naples, 1697). The viceroy of Naples withdrew funding for opera in 1701, whereupon Alessandro sought with little success operatic work in Florence, Rome and Naples. The situation eventually improved at Naples, and Scarlatti returned to his previous position there in 1709. But despite the success of late works like Tigrane (Naples, 1715) and his one comedy Il trionfo dell'onore (Naples, 1718), Neapolitan taste had changed, and his style was considered by many to be too demanding on its audience.