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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 July 2011

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Communications: Conferences
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

To mark the 350th anniversary of the birth of Alessandro Scarlatti, an international congress was organized jointly by the Centro di Musica Antica Pietà de' Turchini, the Accademia Filarmonica Romana and the Istituto Italiano per la Storia della Musica. The event benefited from the collaboration of the Galleria di Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano – Intesa Sanpaolo and the support of the Società Italiana di Musicologia and Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, Seconda Università di Napoli. The study days were supervised by an academic committee made up of Luca Della Libera (Conservatorio di Musica Licino Refice, Frosinone), Nicolò Maccavino (Conservatorio di Musica Francesco Cilea, Reggio Calabria), Paologiovanni Maione (Conservatorio di Musica D. Cimarosa, Avellino), Gaetano Pitarresi (Conservatorio di Musica Francesco Cilea, Reggio Calabria), Antonino Sorgonà (Conservatorio di Musica Francesco Cilea, Reggio Calabria) and Agostino Ziino (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata). The event was held in honour of the eighty years of Roberto Pagano, recognized by the international scholarly community not only as one of the most knowledgeable scholars of the great Palermitan but also as someone who has always been an ardent champion of his historical, artistic and musical importance. Taking place on two consecutive days, the congress set out to cast light on some important aspects of Scarlatti's vast output, investigating the various phases of his creative activity, based above all on his work in Rome and Naples.

The first day was held in Naples in the prestigious venue of the Galleria di Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, headquarters of the Banca Intesa San Paolo. Built on Via Toledo in the years 1637–1639 by Cosimo Fanzago to a commission by the Zevallos family, the building is currently also a museum, housing Caravaggio's celebrated last canvas, Il martirio di Sant'Orsola. Following a speech of welcome from Maria Federica Castaldo, director of the Centro di Musica Antica Pietà de' Turchini, the first session was presided over by Roberto Pagano (Palermo). Leticia De Frutos (Ministerio de Cultura, Spain) illustrated the relationship between Scarlatti and the Marchese del Carpio, ambassador, viceroy, patron and opera impresario. Prior to his arrival in Naples to succeed the Duca di Medinaceli as Viceroy, the Marchese del Carpio had seen something of Scarlatti's successes in Rome. He brought the composer to Naples, first to take charge of music in the Teatro San Bartolomeo and then to be the director of the Cappella Reale. José María Domínguez (Universidad de Extremadura) spoke of the music Scarlatti wrote for the Duca di Medinaceli and the Cardinale Francesco Maria de' Medici. Unpublished data from their correspondence showed how the personal relationship between the two men influenced Scarlatti and the reception of his compositions. Sergio Monferrini (Milan) investigated the relations between Scarlatti, the Cappella Reale in Naples and Carlo IV Borromeo Arese, Conte di Arona and Viceroy of Naples from 1710 to 1713. Documents conserved in Milan show that Scarlatti composed serenades for festivals and ceremonies in which the Cappella Reale performed. Teresa M. Gialdroni (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata) discussed the difficulty of creating an ‘authentic’ catalogue of Scarlatti's cantatas. At the turn of the eighteenth century the cantata da camera was one of the most popular musical genres with composers and audiences alike. Scarlatti composed more than seven hundred cantatas, often featuring his characteristic ground-breaking harmonic progressions, and yet it is quite difficult to establish which cantatas can be attributed with certainty to the Palermitan. The topic presented by Paologiovanni Maione and me (Angela Fiore, Université de Fribourg) concerned the revival and rediscovery of Scarlatti in Naples in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as revealed in contemporary newspapers and gazettes. This rediscovery followed in the wake of the early music revival, which saw a series of small-scale publications featuring presentations of ‘ancient’ authors by such luminaries as Beniamino Cesi and Alessandro Longo. As for performances, the name of Scarlatti begins to appears in local concert programmes only from 1919, the year of the foundation of the Associazione Musicale Scarlatti. Over the following decades this society was responsible for enabling concert-goers to hear a series of his masterpieces for the first time.

The second session was presided over by Luca Della Libera and opened with Dinko Fabris (Università della Basilicata) talking about the tradition and rites of Holy Week in Naples, contrasting the Passions written by Scarlatti and Gaetano Veneziano. In 1684 Veneziano was maestro in the Conservatorio di Loreto and then in the Cappella Reale from 1695 to his death. With such an exemplary career in the musical life of the city, it is hardly surprising that his style conformed perfectly to that of his teacher, Francesco Provenzale, with whom he had been an invaluable collaborator. Sarah Iacono (Università degli Studi di Lecce) discussed some collections of arias preserved in the library of the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella, Naples, which feature a large number of works by Scarlatti. She examined the graphic characteristics of the various copyists, editorial peculiarities and variants in the musical and poetic texts, establishing the typology of the collections and their relationships with similar sources and opera scores. She went on to discuss the presence of some cantate da camera in these collections, providing further confirmation of the blurred distinction between the realms of chamber music and opera. Francesco Cotticelli (Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli) took as his subject Il trionfo dell'onore, Scarlatti's one and only comic masterpiece, to a libretto by Francesco Antonio Tullio, given in the Teatro dei Fiorentini in 1718. The lively spirit, melodic richness and aura of melancholy in this opera prefigure the aesthetic that was to characterize Neapolitan musical theatre. Scarlatti went against prevailing practice in Naples in the previous decades in having all his characters sing in Italian rather than Neapolitan dialect. This innovation reflects the setting of the opera, devoid of popular connotations and closer to the social context and atmosphere that were to characterize bourgeois Venetian comedy.

The proceedings of this first day were concluded by Roberto Pagano, who recalled the very first steps in Scarlatti's artistic career. He evoked the singer known as ‘Scarlati’, a mysterious and somewhat disreputable figure who may have been one of the composer's two sisters. Her affairs with corrupt officials have been mooted by some scholars, including Edward J. Dent, as the real reason behind the appointment of the very young Alessandro as maestro in the Cappella Reale in Naples.

The second day was held in Rome in the Sala Casella of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana, one of the most venerable musical institutions in Rome and indeed in Italy. Founded in 1821 by a group of noblemen who shared a passion for music, it sought to promote the performance of orchestral and chamber music. Proceedings were set in motion by addresses from Sandro Cappelletto, artistic director of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana, and Agostino Ziino, director of the Istituto Italiano per la Storia della Musica. The third session, presided over by Franco Piperno (Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza), began with a joint paper by Roberto Pagano and Agostino Ziino, who re-evaluated Scarlatti's complex relationship with his place of origin, Sicily. The two scholars traced the reasons for this problematic bond to the years immediately prior to the departure of the twelve-year-old Alessandro for Rome. In addition, their valuable work, based on archival research, provided new information on Scarlatti's first years in Rome. Norbert Dubowy (Covington, Kentucky) talked about the opera Statira, to a libretto by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, a munificent patron of musicians and artists who supported, among others, Handel, Corelli and Pasquini. Statira, commissioned by Marcello de Rosis, impresario of the Teatro Tor di Nona in Rome, and given in 1690 to mark the theatre's reopening, is one of the first examples of the collaboration between a cardinal and a composer. Simone Ciolfi (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata) focused on the rise of the affetti in recitatives in Scarlatti's cantatas. Celebrated as early as the first decades of the eighteenth century for their unconventional and experimental recitatives, these cantatas have been studied by musicologists only for the arias. A systematic analysis shows how the music in these compositions is characterized by the accumulation of expressive strategies deriving from basso continuo techniques. The tonal models that informed these experimental pieces became, at the turn of the eighteenth century, the basis for a more widespread musical language that remained popular for the rest of the century. Renato Bossa (Accademia Nazionale di Danza, Rome) spoke about the reception and popularity of Scarlatti in Rome in the twentieth century, looking at the public performance of music in the city and singling out concerts and productions featuring music by Scarlatti. Scarlatti's sacred music was the topic chosen by Maria Adele Ziino (Accademia Filarmonica Romana), who discussed the production of the oratorio La vergine addolorata in 1950 at the Filarmonica Romana. Composed in 1717, the oratorio describes the passion of Christ through the eyes of Mary. Scarlatti composed some forty oratorios in the course of his lifetime, mostly to commissions by Roman patrons, showing himself capable of catering for listeners' tastes but also of adopting bold, innovative solutions, fully in keeping with the baroque aesthetic.

The fourth and final session was presided over by Agostino Ziino and began with new data concerning Scarlatti's sacred music presented by Luca Della Libera. In his vast catalogue, sacred music is quantitatively less prominent than secular, but Scarlatti none the less produced liturgical compositions throughout his life, even though he was not always in the service of the church. With its complex polyphonic writing and above all its atmosphere of intimacy, the Missa Defunctorum affords striking evidence of Scarlatti's debt to Palestrina – a stark contrast in style with the triumphal large-scale compositions from his Roman period. Thomas Griffin (Ajijic, Mexico) focused on the allusions to Scarlatti contained in the so-called ‘Avvisi di Roma’, political documents found in Munich and preserved in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, which Griffin has established as fundamental source material for the history of music in Naples. Paolo Sullo (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata) analysed some of Scarlatti's solfeggi in terms of the Neapolitan didactic tradition. Numerous eighteenth-century manuscripts entitled solfeggi are preserved in the library of the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella in Naples. Few scholars have paid them much attention to date, believing their use to have been restricted to the singing school, but in fact they were used to initiate pupils into free composition. Lorenzo Tozzi (Conservatorio di Musica di Roma Santa Cecilia) discussed Il Pastor di Corinto, a pastoral fable by Scarlatti to a libretto by Francesco Maria Paglia, performed on 5 August 1701 for the birthday of the consort of the Spanish Viceroy. It is one of the rare works of Scarlatti in the pastoral style, alternating Arcadian disquisitions on love with rustic comic scenes. The opera abounds in melodic invention and formal innovations, conjuring up a fanciful universe rich in nuance and dramatic twists and turns.

There followed the presentation of two publications. Paola De Simone and Agostino Ziino presented the volume Domenico Scarlatti: Musica e Storia, edited by Dinko Fabris and Paologiovanni Maione and published by Turchini Edizioni. Highlighting the rediscovery and re-evaluation of Domenico Scarlatti, it contains the proceedings of the congress held in 2007 at the Centro di Musica Antica Pietà dei Turchini, Naples. Dinko Fabris then presented the critical edition of Concerti Sacri Opera Seconda by Scarlatti, edited by Luca Della Libera and published by A-R Editions. The Concerti Sacri are a little known but fundamental component of Italian sacred music. To bring these two days to a fitting conclusion, some concerti sacri by Scarlatti together with instrumental works by Vivaldi and Caldara were performed both in Naples and Rome by prestigious standard bearers for historically informed music-making in Italy, the violinist Enrico Gatti and his Ensemble Aurora.