Thursday, September 25, 2014

THE TOWN OF SIRENS

The activity in Naples of Alessandro Scarlatti from 1683 until his death in 1725 also amplified the international reputation of “the town of sirens” as Naples was named. In their turn, the succeeding generation of composers to Scarlatti began a new style of composing opera; scholars consider today this as the point of departure for the new galant style, epitomized by Leonardo Vinci (who died in 1730), who was the first Neapolitan composer able to gain an international reputation, first in Venice and then in London, where his music was discovered by Handel.
Naples around 1720 additionally saw the beginning of the careers of Pietro Metastasio (the most important librettist of the century), the German-born Johann Adolf Hasse (who was educated in Naples) and the young Farinelli.
The four opera houses in the city offered foreign visitors every kind of vocal music productions, from opera seria in the San Bartolomeo to the new comic operas in the Neapolitan tongue in the minor theatres. And there was music everywhere in the town: in the 500 churches, in the open air, in the streets and in the squares. To sing in Naples was a fundamental achievement for any singer in the 18th century and beyond.

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