Melani, Alesssandro: Concerti Spirituali a 2, 3 e 5 voci, Opera terza, Roma 1682

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  • Composer: Alesssandro Melani
  • Edition: Da Vinci Edition, Pian & Forte
  • Format: A4 - Paperback
  • Genre: Concerto
  • Instrumentation: Orchestra
  • Pages: 252
  • Period: Baroque
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Alesssandro Melani (b Pistoia, 4 Feb 1639; d Rome, 3 Oct 1703). Composer, brother of (1) Jacopo Melani. He sang at Pistoia Cathedral between 1650 and 1660 and then became maestro di cappella in Orvieto and Ferrara. He returned to Pistoia in December 1666 to become maestro di cappella of the cathedral in June 1667, replacing his brother Jacopo. Four months later he was elected maestro di cappella of S Maria Maggiore, Rome; he assumed a similar position at S Luigi dei Francesi no later than July 1672 and remained there until his death. In Rome he enjoyed the favourable conditions of the Rospigliosi papacy, who paid for an opera at the 1668 carnival, and the patronage of Ferdinando de’ Medici, his name appearing among ‘celebrated professors of music protected by the Prince of Tuscany’ in 1695, and of Francesco II d’Este, who in 1690 commissioned an oratorio from him, probably Lo scisma nel sacerdozio (which is lost). The justification for the admission of Alessandro’s nephews to the minor nobility of Tuscany speaks of unspecified services to the King of Poland; the fact that he composed an oratorio, Golia abbatuto, in 1685 (to celebrate the Holy League against the Turks negotiated by Pope Innocent XI and including the King of Poland) strongly suggests that these services combined politics and music. As a composer of liturgical music for Rome, Melani was an important precursor of Alessandro Scarlatti. In addition to his three published collections and isolated motets in other published volumes many other works survive in manuscript; the majority are for eight, nine or ten voices and they constitute a surprisingly large corpus of polychoral music which has yet to be studied. Of eight oratorios ascribed to him the most frequently performed was Il fratricidio di Caino. Santa Dimna (Rome, 1683) is a pasticcio that brought together the three dominant composers in Rome in the second half of the century: Melani, Pasquini and Scarlatti. Alessandro, his brother Jacopo and later Pasquini, Stradella, Antonio Olivieri, Cosimo Bani and above all Alessandro Scarlatti constitute a second school of Roman opera. As noted above under (1), the revival of opera in Rome began with Jacopo Melani’s Il Girello in 1668. In the following year, also with Filippo Acciaiuoli as the impresario, Alessandro’s first datable opera, L’empio punito, was performed in the Palazzo Colonna; it is chiefly interesting as the first opera on the subject of Don Juan. These two operas, which were written for Maria Mancini Colonna, together established a bridge between the lyrical, comic style of mid-century Tuscan opera and the second flowering of Roman opera. But it should be noted that neither composer ever wrote another opera for Rome. Nor are any revivals of their operas recorded in Rome, though Alessandro continued to be a leading composer of oratorio and liturgical music there. Instead his operas were more in demand in Florence and Bologna.