Alessandro Stradella (1644-1682)

Stradella was initially a singer, though he also played lute and violin, taught Latin and wrote some of his texts himself. In addition to sonatas he composed sinfonias - he is credited with the first example of concerto grosso form. He worked mainly for commissions from Christina of Sweden and other patrons, as well as from brotherhoods, theatres and churches. An adventurer - either in flight (from Rome to Venice to Turin to Genoa) or in prison or in danger - he escaped being killed in 1677 in Turin, only to die in Genoa at the age of 37 as a result of one of his affairs. His 195 to 220 highly imaginative cantatas (less transgressive than his behaviour) show all the aspects shown in his operas and oratorios: an irregular succession of aria and recitative, with arioso and coloratura passages. Most of the cantatas are secular, and tend to be dramatic with narrative introductions.

Sta 2

Nero (Il Nerone)

Sopr’un’eccelsa torre

Edited by Barbara Sachs

a critical performing edition for bass (E-g') and bc

Price: £ 7.50

A dramatic cantata

Text by Giovanni Filippo Apolloni

Giovanni Filippo Apolloni (ca. 1620-88) intended his poetic texts primarily for operas, oratorios and cantatas, and these were set by Stradella, Pasquini, Viviani, and Cesti. Il Nerone (also set for bass voice by Cesti, see Green Man Press Cat. ref. Ces 2) is a historical-representational (i.e. dramatic) cantata, within a narrative frame, with a repeated refrain and a rhetorical moral sentence at the end.

C. Claudius Nero appears as seriously wicked, according to the unhistorical notions of the time, according to which he burned Rome “to see what Troy looked like in flames”. This structure lends itself to recits (with arioso and virtuoso passages) alternating with Nero's laughing refrain or with his two arias (Chi desia di salde tempre; La mia ragion di stato); the fourth refrain is followed by the narrator's last recit and aria (Ma nel banco d'Astea).

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