Ciglio, che al sol si gira (Aria), No. 3 from Il Sogno di Scipione (Full Score)

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Antoniello, near the Vicaria.

In the following year she was singing in Venice at the Teatro S. Giovanni 1 Giornali del Sig. Domenico Conforto MS.


Nazionale, Naples. The Spanish Viceroy, Don Gasparo d'Haro y Guzman, was only adding hypocrisy to his other vices when he vented his righteous indignation on the protectors of " La Scarlati" and her friends. All over Italy, Muratori tells us,2 opera in the most sumptuous style was the fashionable entertainment of the day. The courts of Modena and Mantua vied with each other in the extravagance of their productions and in the acquisition of the most celebrated singers, for whom, by a strange irony, virtuoso and virtluosa became the recognized title.

The court of Naples, at this time more than ever the "city of pleasures," though it had not yet attracted composers of any great distinction, had at any rate as great a reputation as any for its liberal appreciation of professional " virtue. We may be fairly certain that Anna Maria Scarlatti depended less upon her musical ability than on her personal attractions as a means of livelihood.

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She could not have been singing in opera at Rome in , as no women were allowed to appear on the stage. Her part in " I1 Ratto delle Sabine" at Venice was only a small one, and there is no record of her having sung in any other opera. Even in her brother's " Pompeo " she did not take part, unless it were in the chorus or the ballet.

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And it is significant that when given her choice either of leaving Naples or of entering a convent there, she preferred the latter alternative, probably having little chance of obtaining a serious musical engagement elsewhere. Naples, He was the most celebrated singer of his time, and had probably had plenty of experience of Scarlatti's style when singing in Rome under the protection of Queen Christina. He was in the service of the Duke of Modena, but much in demand everywhere else, in spite of his rather capricious manners.

For us he has a special interest, as having been sent by the duke to his sister Mary of Modena, wife of James II. He was only five months in England January iS to June 16, , and suffered considerably from the climate; but he had time to acquire some considerable celebrity there, and may very likely have helped to introduce Scarlatti's music to English audiences. He made him write to the Duke of Modena, and wrote to the duke himself as well, begging him to allow Siface to stay, both letters being dated from Naples on February 19, two days after the appointment of the two Scarlattis.

How far the Viceroy approved of the appointment cannot be said; probably he was personally inclined towards it, in view of the success of " Pompeo," and was carefully persuaded to ratify it by the "triumvirate" of whom Conforto tells us, in spite of the dissatisfaction which seems to have arisen, according to Conforto, from the post being given to one who was not a Neapolitan.

In any case Anna Maria Scarlatti deserves to be remembered, since, had it not been for her, Alessandro might not have remained at Naples to be for eighteen years the leading composer of operas there. And these eighteen years, though they do not represent the best period of Scarlatti's production, are of the greatest importance for his own career and for the history of music generally, since the encouragement that he received at Naples, in spite of obvious disadvantages, enabled him to develop his style steadily in one direction in a way that he could never have done under other circumstances.

He apparently received no stipend after February , but he stayed on in Naples and retained his title until , hardly a year passing in which he did not compose at least two operas, most of which were produced either at the royal palace or at the royal theatre of S.

We can hardly be surprised that, under such circumstances, he soon took to modelling his work on fixed patterns, from which he hardly ever departed. But the system had its advantages as well as its drawbacks. It limited the composer's sphere of action, but it gave him leisure to develop this style to the utmost within the limits imposedQThus this period, which, more than any other, marks the first step to the final decadence of oldfashioned Italian opera, is of the greatest importance in the history of pure music, and it is mainly from this point of view that it will be treated in this chapter.

It is not easy for the modern reader to orm a clear conception of what an operatic performance was like at this time.

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The modern romantic opera, to say nothing of the modern music-drama, seems to have nothing tangible in common with the opera of Scarlatti. The 1 Parocchia di S. Liboria della Carita Chiesa di Mlontesanto , fol. Domenico Martio Carafa Duca di Maddaloni. Marino Caracciolo Ppe di Avellino e D. Emilia Carafa Duchessa di Maddaloni.

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Nicola Gaetano p procura in nome del Sigre D. Aurora Sanseverino. Jerome, were all stock characters at the "Real Teatro di S. The author may cite Aulus Gellius and Polydore Vergil in the most learned manner in the avviso al lettore, but once the curtain is up history retires into the background, and for three acts we do nothing but watch the progress of interminable love intrigues between personages whose very existence is often no more than one of the poet's "accidentz verissimi. An outline of " L'Olimpia Vendicata" will serve to illustrate the type.

When the curtain rises, Olimpia, a princess of Holland, is discovered alone on a desert island in the Spanish main, where she has been left by her faithless lover Bireno, prince of Zealand. She is immediately taken prisoner by Araspe, a pirate chief, to whose inquiries she answers that her name is Ersilla. The scene now changes to the court of Spain. The king Oberto wishes to marry his sister, the princess Alinda, to Osmiro, prince of somewhere else his country is not named ; Alndza, however, refuses, preferring a stranger who has just arrived in the guise of a pilgrim.

At this juncture Araspe appears, having been cast ashore by a convenient storm, and Ersilla-Olzimpia is given to Ahlinda as a slave, Oberto himself immediately falling in love with her. This ends the first act. In Act II. It being apparently one of "Ersll'a's" duties to read Alzinda's love-letters aloud to her, and write the answers at her dictation, Olinmpia is thus made aware of the situation, and determines to avenge herself. Bireno sees her and recognizes her. He attempts to explain his rather awkward position; she cuts short his apologies and protests that she is not Olzim'ia but Ersilla.

Believing himself to have been mistaken, he proposes to elope with Alinda, who says she will give him an answer by letter. She dictates a refusal to Olimpia, but immediately tears it up, and the act ends with her again refusing Osmiro. In Act III. Olimpia tells IBir'cuo that Alinda loves Osmiro, and invites him to surprise them together and kill his rival. Bireno comes at the appointed hour, and Olimpia prepares him supper.

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As she has drugged the wine he falls asleep, and she is just on the point of murdering him, when she is prevented by Alinda. She then reveals herself and tells the story of her desertion; Bireno is cast into prison, Olimpia marries Oberto, and Alinda consoles herself with Osmiro. It is obvious that the complication of the plot leaves very little opportunity for the study of character. Whether the dramatis personae are princes and princesses of mediaeval Holland or of ancient Greece, they act and talk and sing in precisely the same way, just as they no doubt wore the same sort of costumes in front of the same sort of scenery; indeed everything, including the turgid language of the libretti, to which no translation could do justice, belongs to no other age than the last twenty years of the seventeenth century.

Scarlatti was not by temperament a reformer or an iconoclast. He took things as he found them, and did the best that could be done on the lines of his predecessors. The libretti of his day offered him any quantity of heroic sentiments, which he set to a dignified recitative, as well as straightforward obvious emotions, which he could express in a neat aria at the end of each scene. He soon found.

It satisfied the natural aesthetic need of contrast and recognition in the clearest possible way, and the Da Capo gave the singer a favourable opportunity of exhibiting his skill in extemporizing variations, as was expected of him by both audience and composer. Writing every air and each opera would contain some fifty or sixty in the same form, Scarlatti attained a wonderful mastery over his material, and besides displaying an infinite variety of style within the given limits, he gradually developed the form to a very high degree of emotional and structural organization.

Outside the aria, there was hardly any formal music in the opera. There was the overture, the evolution of which will be discussed in detail later on, and there were occasional dances and marches. The marches and pageant music are all written by Scarlatti himself, but the ballets are frequently absent from the score. From the indications given in the libretti they seem to have been almost always of a comic nature, and sometimes they are directly associated with the comic characters. It seems probable that they were not regarded as an integral part of the opera, and that the ballet music, like the ballet-master, was generally imported from France.

The descriptive-symhonies which are so important in the earlier Venetian operas find no lace in Scarlatti. Musical scene-painting is really a modern growth.

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In "Der Freischutz" and " Der Fliegende Hollander" the orchestra is used to stimulate emotions which the stage carpenter cannot awaken. The music throws our nerves into a state of abnormal excitement, in which our own imagination can easily complete the illusion which the scenery has suggested. The emotional aspect of landscape is essentially a characteristic of the nineteenth century, and in connection with this we must also take into account that owing to altered circumstances of theatrical management, scenic arrangements in Weber's and Wagner's days were not so elaborate as in the seventeenth century, when opera was the plaything of princes.

The subjective expression, or rather suggestion, of the collective emotions of the audience is a different thing, and is certainly not older than Gluck. It is very easy to think that it existed already in Peri, Monteverdi, and Cavalli, but we must beware of letting our modern romanticism run away with us. It is not reasonable to suppose that because Monteverdi or Purcell happened accidentally on a device, be it structural or harmonic, that to our ears is characteristic of Wagner or Tchaikovsky, they or their audiences necessarily attached the same emotional impression to it that we do.

In studying the dramatic music of the first half of the seventeenth century we must always remember that, however anxious composers might be in theory to get away from polyphony, vocal or instrumental, they were obliged to fall back upon it in practice, because it was a material which they were accustomed to handling, and which their audiences would understand without effort.

There is no direct connection between the choruses and descriptive symphonies of Monteverdi and those of Weber, except by the circuitous route that traverses the stony asperities of French opera.