Personalities | Alessandro Stradella | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera

1639–82, Italian

Alessandro Stradella was in his native Rome, writing intermezzi and other music for revivals of operas by Cavalli and Cesti, when he became embroiled in a quarrel with the Catholic authorities. He then had to leave Rome and decamped to Genoa, where he arrived in 1678. By that time, Stradella had composed several operas, and three were performed at Genoa’s Teatro Falcone: Trespolo tutore (‘The Guardian Trestle’, 1677), La forza dell’amor patterno (‘The Power of Paternal Love’, 1678) and Le gare dell’amor eroico (‘The Contests of Heroic Love’, 1679). The first was a comic opera and one of the first in which a bass was cast in the leading male role.

Stradella’s operas have been considered by some to prefigure the Neapolitan opera later developed by Alessandro Scarlatti. In addition to composition, Stradella was a music teacher and one of his students was a nobleman’s mistress. Stradella abducted her. The nobleman gave chase and almost killed the composer. Far from being cured by this experience, Stradella became involved with another woman associated with vengeful men: her brothers, who disapproved of the liaison, ambushed Alessandro Stradella and murdered him.

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