Stradella, Alessandro


Italian composer, about whom only the most indefinite biographical facts are known, but around whose name numbers of the most exaggerated and romantic stories have sprung up. Some authorities have it that he was born about 1645 in either Venice or Naples. In the archives of the Royal Conservatory of Music at Naples are kept all the records of superseded and defunct conservatories, but in none of these is there any record of him as either student or teacher. The only opera that we have reason to believe was performed during his lifetime was one called II Trespolo. Bourdelot, who gives a detailed account of more than doubtful authenticity, places his death in 1670 or 1678, but his cantata, II Barcheggio, which was performer at Genoa in honor of the marriage of Carlo Spinola and Paola Brignole, was undoubtedly written in 1681. Therefore his death occurred after this date, probably in Genoa. Among the works attributed to him are La Forza dell* Amor Paterno, a grand opera given in Genoa in 1678", Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista; Suzanna, an oratorio, 1681; the operas Orazio Cocle sul ponte, Corispero and Trespolo tutore; eleven dramas; six oratorios and many other compositions. Many of these are preserved in the following places: At Modena are eleven dramas, six oratorios and about a hundred and thirty other compositions; at the Library of St. Mark in Venice are twenty-one cantatas; and other manuscripts are at the Conservatory of Naples and at Paris, while the Library of Christ's Church, Oxford, contains eight cantatas and a motet; the British Museum owns the cantata called Medea, and the Harleian Library has two cantatas, two ariettas and a duet. The fanciful history of Stradella which Bonnet - Bourdelot gives, runs briefly as follows: Having acquired great renown in Venice as an operatic composer and a singer of exquisite taste he was engaged to teach singing to the mistress of a Venetian noble. During the course of these lessons the two fell in love with each other and fled to Rome, where they were followed by assassins, paid by the Venetian to murder them. The murderers planned to kill Stradella and the lady, who is supposed to have been Ortensia Contazini, at the close of a religious drama of Stradella's which was to be performed at the Church of St. John Lateran. The story goes that they were so much moved by this drama that they not only allowed the lovers to escape but warned them of the pursuit. They went to Turin, where they considered themselves safe, and where the Regent put Ortensia into a convent, and made Stradella a member of her orchestra. The outraged Venetian followed them here, however, and one night his emissaries stabbed Stradella while he was walking on the city ramparts. He did not die of these wounds and the assassins were allowed to escape. About a year later in Genoa, he and Ortensia, whom he had married, were murdered in their bedroom. The date of this murder is put at 1670, which together with other fabulous statements tends to prove the falsity of this account.