Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)



Donald Macleod explores Alessandro Scarlatti's early years.

Alessandro Scarlatti is considered to be the founder of Neapolitan Opera.

In this 350th year since the composer's birth, Donald Macleod surveys his life and music.

Although from humble beginnings, Scarlatti rose to claim the patronage of princes, queens and cardinals.

Knighted by the Pope, he also joined the elite Arcadian Academy with prominence over other composers such as Corelli.

Largely overshadowed in recent years by his son Domenico, Alessandro once held prominence on an international stage.

Not only did he claim to have composed 114 operas, but it is believed he composed over 700 cantatas, nearly 40 oratorios, along with many instrumental works.

Donald Macleod appraises the legacy of Alessandro Scarlatti, and questions whether we should re-evaluate his importance.

Donald Macleod surveys the life and music of Alessandro Scarlatti, with a look at the composer's early years.

Little is known about Scarlatti's life in Palermo, but his family moved to Rome when he was about 12.

Married at the age of 18, Alessandro started to make a name for himself early on.

Initially employed by the church to conduct choirs, we'll hear an example of his choral writing, his Nisi Dominus.

Alessandro soon realised that it was the world of opera which he wished to pursue.

This attracted powerful patrons, including a number of cardinals.

He soon became the maestro di cappella to Queen Christina of Sweden, and we'll hear an aria from his early opera L'honesta negli amori, which he dedicated to her.


Continuing our series on Alessandro Scarlatti, Donald Macleod focuses on the composer's first period in Naples, where he influenced the course of Neapolitan Opera.

As opera became less popular in Rome due to Papal decree, Alessandro Scarlatti soon moved to Naples to pursue his career for the stage.

Donald Macleod surveys this period in Naples, where Scarlatti composed around 70 operas.

We'll hear Le violette from Pirro e Demetrio, which had an international success.

Although Scarlatti greatly influenced the course of opera in Naples, he still relied upon other work to survive, including his appointment as the Maestro of the Royal Chapel.

He composed over sixty cantatas during this period, frequently for the entertainment of Cardinals Ottoboni and Pamphili in Rome.

We'll hear the cantata Gia lusingato appieno, linked in narrative to James II of England.

Donald Macleod explores Alessandro Scarlatti's first period in Naples.


Donald Macleod focuses on Alessandro Scarlatti's less than triumphant return to Rome.

As part of our series on Alessandro Scarlatti, Donald Macleod focuses upon the composer's return to Rome, as necessitated by finances and politics.

With late payments from the Royal Chapel in Naples, Alessandro Scarlatti soon realised he'd need to relocate in order to survive.

Donald Macleod follows Scarlatti's return to Rome via Florence, but not before King Philip V of Spain's visit to Naples.

Scarlatti, along with other composers such as Corelli, was required to compose music for this important occasion.

We'll hear the Sinfonia from Scarlatti's serenata Clori, Dorino e Amore, which captivated the Spanish King.

Once back in Rome, Scarlatti was soon tied down contractually to a number of churches.

This was not the sort of work that he wanted to do, and he began to receive complaints for neglecting his duties.

Opera however was banned during this period in Rome.

Papal opposition to theatrical activity meant that the most important artistic event in the calendar was the oratorios for Lent.

To end the programme we'll hear the second half of Scarlatti's Oratorio per la Passione di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo.

This oratorio is considered to be one of his best in this field, maybe even a rival to Handel's La Resurrezione.


Donald Macleod focuses on Alessandro Scarlatti's disillusionment with Rome.

Donald Macleod continues our series, focusing upon Alessandro Scarlatti's disillusionment with Rome, and his opera failures for the Venetian Carnival season in 1707.

Feeling confined by Papal decree in Rome, Alessandro Scarlatti continued to seek commissions elsewhere.

Donald Macleod follows Scarlatti's journey to Venice for the Carnival season in 1707.

Scarlatti - in trying to impress the opera capital of the time - seems to have over-complicated his compositions, and the Venetian audience was not impressed.

Scarlatti eventually returned to Naples having been offered a post by the newly appointed Austrian Viceroy.

He didn't sever links with Rome, for he was made a Knight of the Golden Spur by the Pope in 1716.

It was during this latter part of his life that Scarlatti focused more on instrumental writing.

We'll hear a set of 39 variations for harpsichord, on the theme La Folia, similar in form to Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Scarlatti didn't stop writing for the Church, and the programme ends with the latter part of his Stabat Mater.

This hymn to the virgin was very popular - until Pergolesi's version came along.

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In our final programme on Alessandro Scarlatti, Donald Macleod surveys the composer's decline into poverty, and evaluates his reputation as the founder of Neapolitan Opera.

Donald Macleod surveys Alessandro Scarlatti's final years and his reputation as the founder of Neapolitan Opera.

During this time a new movement was beginning in the world of opera: opera buffa.

We'll hear Scarlatti's own attempt at the new style, with an aria from Il Trionfo dell'Onore.

Towards the end of his life, Scarlatti also taught more pupils out of financial necessity.

During one of these lessons he stated that he'd never liked wind instruments, because they never stay in tune.

Despite that, Alessandro did compose a number of works for wind instruments, and we'll hear his Concerto in F major for 3 Flutes.

Scarlatti's greatest love may have been opera, but he was mainly employed as the maestro di cappella to a number of royal courts and churches and made a significant impact upon the world of oratorio, cantatas, and sacred music.

To end this final episode we'll hear the latter part of his Mass for St Cecilia's Day, composed five years before his death for one of his Roman patrons.

Donald Macleod focuses on Alessandro Scarlatti's decline into poverty.