Alessandro Scarlatti, 1660-1725


Selected Recordings

Concerto No. 1

Sinfonia avanti l’Opera Griselda

Sinfonia avanti l’Opera Marco Attilio Regolo

Selected Sheet Music

“Kyrie” from St. Cecilia Mass
st cecilia


Showcase Piece

“Cara Tomba” aria da Mitridate Eupatore

Notes and Commentary

“The center of operatic activity eventually shifted from Venice to Naples—from Menteverdi and his followers to Alessandro Scarlatti and his school. The techniques and methods developed in Naples were adopted by Italians for many years after that—until Gluck chartered a new course for opera. Even a non-Italian like Handel was influenced by, and imitated, the Neapolitans.”—David Ewen, The Complete Book of Classical Music

Alessandro Scarlatti was an Italian composer especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera, and was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti.

Scarlatti’s music forms an important link between the early Baroque Italian vocal styles of the 17th century, with their centers in Florence, Venice, and Rome, and the classical school of the 18th century. Scarlatti’s style, however, is more than a transitional element in Western music; like most of his Naples colleagues he shows an almost modern understanding of the psychology of modulation and also frequently makes use of the ever-changing phrase lengths so typical of the Napoli school. His early operas (Gli equivoci nel sembiante 1679; L’honestà negli amori 1680, containing the famous aria “Già il sole dal Gange”; Il Pompeo 1683, containing the well-known airs “O cessate di piagarmi” and “Toglietemi la vita ancor,” and others down to about 1685) retain the older cadences in their recitatives, and a considerable variety of neatly constructed forms in their charming little arias, accompanied sometimes by the string quartet, treated with careful elaboration, sometimes with the continuo alone. By 1686 he had definitely established the “Italian overture” form (second edition of Dal male il bene), and had abandoned the ground bass and the binary form air in two stanzas in favour of the ternary form or da capo type of air. His best operas of this period are La Rosaura (1690, printed by the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung), and Pirro e Demetrio (1694), in which occur the arias “Le Violette”, and “Ben ti sta, traditor”.

From about 1697 onwards (La caduta del Decemviri), influenced partly perhaps by the style of Giovanni Bononcini and probably more by the taste of the viceregal court, his opera arias become more conventional and commonplace in rhythm, while his scoring is hasty and crude, yet not without brilliance (L’Eraclea, 1700), the oboes and trumpets being frequently used, and the violins often playing in unison.

Mitridate Eupatore, accounted his masterpiece, composed for Venice in 1707, contains music far in advance of anything that Scarlatti had written for Naples, both in technique and in intellectual power. The later Neapolitan operas (L’amor volubile e tiranno 1709; La principessa fedele 1710; Tigrane, 1714, &c.) are showy and effective rather than profoundly emotional; the instrumentation marks a great advance on previous work, since the main duty of accompanying the voice is thrown upon the string quartet, the harpsichord being reserved exclusively for the noisy instrumental ritornelli. In his opera Teodora (1697) he originated the use of the orchestral ritornello.

He lived from May 2, 1660, to October 24, 1725.—Excerpted from Wikipedia

Books and Music

Selected Books

Alessandro Scarlatti: His Life and Works
Cornell University Library, 2009
Edward Joseph Dent
$23.99 on Amazon


“Originally published in 1905. This volume from the Cornell University Library’s print collections was scanned on an APT BookScan and converted to JPG 2000 format by Kirtas Technologies. All titles scanned cover to cover and pages may include marks notations and other marginalia present in the original volume.”—from Amazon

Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti: A Guide to Research
Routledge, 1993
Carole F. Vidali
$197.35 on Amazon
$55 for used


“This up-to-date guide includes an annotated bibliography which identifies and discusses selected articles, books, and dissertations about the composers’ lives and works. The guide focuses on recent studies and major review articles, which point to areas that still have to be investigated. It also includes extensive lists of modern editions, published and unpublished, as well as discographies of recordings that have current and historical interest. Some of the discussions in the guide examine the Scarlattis’ relationships to other composers, the cultural milieu in which each worked, questions of performance practice, and other research problems.”—From Amazon

Selected Music

griselda La Griselda (2001), 2-CD set

overo Il Primo Omicidio Overo (1998), 2-CD set

scarl-cantatas A. Scarlatti Cantatas, Volume III (2000), 1 CD

More Alessandro Scarlatti music

Complete Works

The following are all operas. Excerpted from Wikipedia. Access complete information on them.

Gli equivoci nel sembiante
L’honestà negli amori
Tutto il mal non vien per nuocere
(revised as Dal male il bene Naples 1687)
Il Pompeo
La guerriera costante
L’Aldimiro, o vero Favor per favore
La Psiche, o vero Amore innamorato
Olimpia vendicata
La Rosmene, o vero L’infedeltà fedele
Clearco in Negroponte
La santa Dinna
Il Flavio
L’Amazzone corsara, o vero L’Alvilda
La Statira
Gli equivoci in amore, o vero La Rosaura
L’humanità nelle fiere, o vero Il Lucullo
La Teodora augusta
Gerone tiranno di Siracusa
Il nemico di se stesso
L’amante doppio, o vero Il Ceccobimbi
Pirro e Demetrio
Il Bassiano, o vero Il maggior impossibile
La santa Genuinda, o vero L’innocenza difesa dall’inganno (Act 2) d
Le nozze con l’inimico, o vero L’Analinda
Nerone fatto Cesare
Massimo Puppieno
Penelope la casta
La Didone delirante
Comodo Antonino
L’Emireno ovvero Il consiglio dell’ombra
La caduta de’ Decemviri
Il prigioniero fortunato
La donna ancora è fedele
Gl’inganni felici
Dafni favola boschereccia
Laodicea e Berenice
Il pastore di Corinto favola boschereccia
Tito Sempronio Gracco
Tiberio imperatore d’oriente
Il Flavio Cuniberto
Turno Aricino
Lucio Manlio l’imperioso
Il gran Tamerlano
Il Mitridate Eupatore
Il trionfo della libertà
Il Teodosio
L’amor volubile e tiranno
La principessa fedele
La fede riconosciuta
Giunio Bruto, o vero La caduta dei Tarquini
Il Ciro
Scipione nelle Spagne
L’amor generoso
Carlo re d’Allemagna
La virtù trionfante dell’odio e dell’amore
Il trionfo dell’onore
Il Cambise
Marco Attilio Regolo

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