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Detail from the autograph of the Cantata pastorale, 1716: Non sò qual più m'ingombra
Source: Musiksammlung der Staatsbibliothek, Berlin


Detail from the autograph score of Cantata da camera: Ombre tacite e sole, 31.10.1716
Source: British Library

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The Composer's Words
Scarlatti enjoyed the patronage of Ferdinando de' Medici in the first decade of the 18th century. The cultured prince - who supported the ambitious inventions of Bartolomeo Cristofori while he developed the 'cembalo col forte e piano' - commissioned several operas from Alessandro. The composer could not often attend to direct the productions, and he entrusted some of his ideas about his music to the prince.


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Scarlatti, Alessandro | Please scroll down to view...

Scarlatti, Alessandro (born Palermo, 2 May 1660; died Naples, 22 October 1725)

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  • Lasciami alquanto piangere
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    In this particularly sad cantata, Filen bemoans lost love and prepares to die: Let me weep, for I can say no more... Starting with a particularly beautiful Siciliano and ending with a typically breezy second aria, this delightful cantata is in aria - recit - aria format. Complete with optional continuo realisation.
    Range: d - e' flat

    Editor: Brian Daw
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  • O voi di queste selve habitatrici
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    A fine example of Scarlatti's late chromaticism. The second aria Lento is particularly 'twisty'. Irene is bemoaning her unfaithful lover Lidio who has fallen for Filli, addressing the inhabitants of the woods and fields. A lot of help they're going to be with their track record! Complete with optional continuo realisation.
    Range: e flat - g#'

    Editor: Brian Daw
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  • Agitato mio core
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Dated on the first page as 'in Albano 1704'. Despite Eurilla's promise of fidelity her erstwhile beloved is nervous (small wonder with her track history) and his heart is all 'a-flutter'. RARA format with a particularly interesting format for the first aria Quietati.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung Hs 3907(1)
    Range: e - a''

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Andate o miei sospiri
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    "Go, oh my sighs, to Irene's heart, May it know of my pains by you..." An intensely chromatic work with two versions of the final aria. In most sources dated 10 March, 1712 and was composed in response to a cantata by Francesco Gasparini based on the same text. The second version of the final aria aria here is from a later version with the subtitle: con idea inumana, in regolato cromatico, ma non è per ogni professore – the final aria itself is inscribed with the words: Altr'aria capriccio dell' Autore
    Range: d - g'

    Editor: Kate Eckersley & James Sanderson
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  • Bei Prati, freschi rivi
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    A beautiful cantata showing Scarlatti in great inventive mode. The theme is of love lost or gone away: death would be preferable, but even after death he is sure still to long for her. He calls Nature to witness his suffering, but only the merest echo comes back as a reply. RARA format, both arias complicated and chromatic and the recitatives full of harmonic twists and turns.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 3915(3)
    Range: c - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Bella, bella quanto crudel
    Forces: mezzo-soprano & continuo
    Despite appalling treatment, Irene's lover remains constant and wants more (remind you of anyone?) Complex recits and some exciting chromatic harmonies in the arias. RARA format.
    Source: Münster Santini HS 859 (11)
    Range: d - e'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Che Sisifo infelice
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    The subject deals with that old favourite 'lontananza' or separation using the image of Sisyphus pushing rocks uphill to illustrate the hopelessness of the lover's cause. A cantata with much to recommend it, come great recitative and aria writing. RARA format.
    Source: Münster Santini Samlung HS 3977
    Range: d - f#'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Cinta dei più bei fiori
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    "Surrounded by so many beautiful flowers" and so much beautiful music. This is a substantial pastoral cantata (with an appearance by the faithless Clori) in RARARA format. Sinuous recitative and stunning arias!
    Range: e - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Del lagrimoso lido
    (Euridice dall'inferno)

    Forces: soprano & continuo
    The Orfeo story as told by Euridice, who implores Orfeo to recover her from hell (Aria 1), then addresses the Furies in the dramatic 2nd Aria with contrasting B section. The text of Aria 3 expresses cautious optimism, but the music undermines this with a fragmented coloratura in f# minor. Powerful recitatives and contrasted arias (b minor, F major, f# minor) make this a strong character portrayal. The edition gives Scarlatti's two settings of Aria 1 - the first a chromatic ground bass, the 'other way' a more modern cantabile aria, both capturing the pathos of Euridice.
    Range - e'-a''
    R-A-R-A-R-A

    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • Del' Tirreno à le sponde
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Source: BL Add MS 14211 ff 58r - 64r
    This sad, pastoral cantata sees our hero Fileno languishing for lost love (of Clori of course) on the banks of the Tyrrhenian Sea - the scene of many a fevered brow! In double recit-aria format, both arias andante but vastly different. Some excellent changes from secco recit into arioso.
    Range: e - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Della spietata Irene
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Why do these men keep coming back for more? This perfidious Irene can kill with a glance, has Cupid on her side and just doesn't care! One of Scarlatti's more chromatic offerings in RARA format, both arias full of peno. Range d - f'
    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Dorisbe cacciatrice - Già sorge l'Alba
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    A large cantata telling the story of the huntress Dorisbe. Her face is compared to the snares of Cupid, her bow to Cupid's darts and the listener is exhorted to hunt animals, not Love. In a complicated RAARARAA format, the last aria gradually becoming arioso then recitative. Some excellent hunting motifs in the music, particularly evoking the sound of the hunting horn.
    Sources: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 3977 and HS 864
    Range: c - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • E come, oh Dio
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    [ca.1697/8]
    Remarkable, dramatic recitatives, female narrator, theme of jealousy caused by separation; range: d'- g

    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • E come, oimè, poss'io?
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    The cruelty of Love is the theme of this cantata. How can I resist your beauty? That age-old problem! Complete with optional continuo realisation.
    Range: d - f#'

    Editor: Brian Daw
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  • Fille, Fille, dolente Fille
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    As the title suggests, Fille is sad...but, disturbingly, she likes the treatment she is getting from Tirsi: 'I will enjoy my pains, because I adore the chains...' Disturbing! A wonderful cantata in RARA format, Scarlatti at his most harmonically adventurous.
    Source: Naples, Cantate 266

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Fille, mia cara Fille
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    A wonderfully chromatic work from 1704 (November 4th), the chromaticism expressing the tortures of loving such an unfaithful woman as Fille (the usual). Long, complex recitatives and two very contrasting arias.
    Range: d - f#'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Filli adorata, e cara
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Why do these men suffer so? Despite being separated from his beloved, our protagonist sings of his love for her being the reason for his life. His soul yearns and his death will swiftly follow, should she not return. Yeah, right! RARA format, one aria slow and sinuous, the other fast and virtuosic. Range c - g'
    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Giù di Vulcan
    Forces: alto & continuo
    Join the god Vulcan in his depths to discuss the changeable nature of love. RARA format with some wonderfully sinuous writing in recitative and aria.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 3909
    Range: b flat - d'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Il genio di Mitilde
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Source: Paris Bibliothèque Nationale, MS D.11840
    The capricious Mitilde has more moods than the sea has storms, and Scarlatti depicts her in a fiery cantata with exciting demands for singer, cellist and keyboard player. Range - e' g''.
    2 Recits and arias: 1. Spiritoso, D minor; 2. Alla breve, A major

    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • Il Sonno
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Here, dreams are the only escape from the pain of love. 'Oh come, oh merciful sleep...' In torturously complex recitatives and two characterful arias, Scarlatti shows himself once again to the be the master of the genre. From two sources in the Naples Conservatorii - Cantate 23 (7) and 255 (24) and dated September 22nd, 1716, this is a real gem.
    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • In vano Amor tiranno
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    The first line says it all: Cupid is trying to destroy another young man's life with his darts and this guy is fighting back! An extensive work in RARARA format, the first two arias slow and sinuous, the last more matter-of-fact and resigned to fate.
    Range: d - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Io son Neron (Il Nerone)
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    This cantata was written in 1698 and is from a manuscript with a number of other mythological or historical themes rather than pastoral. The self-styled 'Emperor of the World', Nero, is certainly enjoying his ego! Florid and virtuosic. RARARAR format with a fiery recitative finish.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 3909
    Range: d - b'' flat

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • La dove a Mergellina
    Forces: Soprano & continuo
    There at Mergellina where the sea kisses the shore, the lovelorn Elpino went alone one day, addressing the waves: "Love him that loves you..." A stunning example of the genre in a long-awaited edition from Rosalind Halton and a must have for the lovers of cantate de camera. In RARA format and taken from two sources, Naples and London.
    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • La morte di Mitilde
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Mitilde dies and with her dies the flame of Love. A challenging and fascinating example in RARA format, the recitatives travelling through widely disparate tonalities and the contrasting arias, one a stunning Adagio and one a classic cut-common rage against the tyrant, have very clearly defined characters and great musical values. The source is a manuscript in the Naples collections.
    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Leandro anima mia (Ero e Leandro)
    Forces: alto & continuo
    Hero calls for Leander who is attempting to swim the Hellespont to meet her. Upon his death she reacts to his loss and her reaction is interpreted by a narrator character in a final aria. In RARARA format.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 3909
    Range: c - d'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Libertà del mio cor
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    [ca.1709] - one source only extant.
    Theme of the bird seeking freedom/ the lover freedom from love. Virtuoso aria 1, final siciliano very beautiful.
    Range: d'-g''. A major/D major.

    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • Lieti boschi, ombre amiche
    Forces: alto & continuo
    Taking refuge in the forests, amongst the friendly shades, our heart-broken protagonist sighs at his plight. The trees, breezes, beasts and birds know how he feels, but Clori is insensitive to his love. RARA format with a spiky adagio and a rather sprightly andante to finish.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 3907(15)
    Range: b - c'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Lontan dall' Idol mio
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Sources: 7 MS sources, as described in the notes, dated 1699 in one source (Bodleian Library, Oxford).
    Subject: the illusion of love being present, though far away. This is one of the most profound and passionate settings by Scarlatti on the theme of distance and separation, from its opening interval - a minor 9th - to the wild despairing modulations within the final Siciliano aria.
    Featured on chacona's recording 'Olimpia: cantatas of Alessandro Scarlatti'.
    Vocal range: d'-g''

    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • Lontananza crudele, deh perchè
    Forces: soprano & continuo

    Editor: Brian Daw
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  • Mesto lasso, e ramingo
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Dated on the first page as June of 1704. Submerged in sadness and sorrow, our protagonist pleads with Fate for release. In regular RARA format with a quirky 3/4 first aria and a lovely, pleading Siciliano to finish.
    Source: Source: Münster Santini Sammlung Hs 3907(2)
    Range: d - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Mi tormenta il pensiero (i)
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    The first version of this cantata, dated 10 March 1701 in Scarlatti's 'Cantata Diary'. 'Tormented by my thoughts, consumed with desire, lost is hope, and without hope what point is there in life?' The torments of Jealousy in love. RARA format.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 864(7)
    Range: d - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Mi tormenta il pensiero (ii)
    Forces: alto & continuo
    The second version on this text, using more of the text than version I. The cruel force of Jealousy plagues the young lover in this concisely written pastoral cantata. Tormented by thoughts, consumed with desire, lost is hope, and without hope what point is there in life?.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung 3909
    Range: b - c#'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Non lasciar canora e bella
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Charting the progress of the Swallow (Rondinella) from the Arno to the Tebro at the end of the Summer's heat, with some beautiful word painting (including fluting bird-song) and some quite stunning recitative - AS at his best in another of the 1704 cantatas. In ARARA format, starting with a gentle Siciliano, an Allegro in cut common time is the middle aria and the final aria is a lively 3/8.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung 3907
    Range: d - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Notte cara a un cor che langue
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    (1705)
    Vocal range: d'-g''.
    Hanley 478. Three arias, two recits. Sources in British Library and Santini Collection, Münster.
    Theme of night and the solitary lover; rewarding cello part, especially the virtuoso Aria 2.

    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • Notte cara, ombre beate
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    'Dear night, blessed shadows...I only enjoy my dreams and cry in the day...' Very much a nocturnal lover in one of Scarlatti's stunning night cantatas. Beautiful harmonies, sinuous dreaming vocal lines capturing that special air of quiet and suspense. In ARARA format and compiled from two copies in the Naples Conservatorio Library.
    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • O che mostro, o che furia è Lontananza (1709)
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Text is by Cardinal Ottoboni: being apart is a monster, a fury, and always gives rise to jealousy. Arias are in B flat (very ornate) and C major (very cheerful and melodic), and the cantata finishes with a brief recitative, giving thanks for faithful love which can survive separation. Both arias have rewarding dialogue for voice and cello.
    The whole manuscript contains settings of Ottoboni's texts.
    RARAR format
    Range: e flat'- g''
    Source: British Library, Add. Ms. 34056

    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • O pace del mio cor
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    O peace of my heart, where do you wander? So begins this delightful cantata, one of Alessandro Scarlatti’s most frequently copied. The principal source of this edition is held in the Royal College of London, Ms. 583, a copy in a Neapolitan hand. ARAR format.
    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • Peno, e del mio penar
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    28 August, 1705, autograph source in New Haven, Yale (Scarlatti's 'cantata diary').
    Penetrating melismatic recitatives, with final aria in Siciliano style.
    Range: e flat'- g''. C minor/F minor. Scarlatti's complex chromatic style.

    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • Poiche cessano alfin
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    range: e'-g'' The storms of love come to an end. The final aria 'andante amoroso' Siciliano is a great, touching example of the genre, and recitatives show the virtuoso declamatory style of Scarlatti at the height of his creativity. 2 recits, 2 arias.
    Editor: Rosalind Halton
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  • Quando Amor vuol ferirmi
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    "When Love wants to hurt me, the traitor hides beneath your lashes..." The bitter-sweet torments of love in this delightful work from Münster Santini Sammlung HS 3915(2) - Hanley 588. In RARA format
    Range: d - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Questa, questa è la selva
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    A wonderful pastoral setting 'This is the forest...' but once again Nice is not being nice and is abandoning her lover. His cries and plaints, his promises of eternal love are all for naught as he is deserted... This is a really complex work with huge recitatives, RARA format.
    From 5 sources in the Biblioteca del Conservatorio di musica S. Pietro a Majella - Napoli: Cantate 255 (26), 256 (7), 267 (6), 266 (62). There is also a copy in 264 (20) which pitches the recitatives a tone higher and the second aria in a minor rather than d minor.

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • S'io t'amo s'io t'adoro
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Dated on the first page as June of 1704. Amore is playing his tricks again and has had his usual effect! RARA format with a complicated first aria largo.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung Hs 3907(2)
    Range: d - a''

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Scompagnata tortorella
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Our litte turtle-dove is caged and kept away from his beloved again in this charming cantata and once again death is preferable to this continued condition of estrangement from the beloved! In ARA format.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 861
    Range: e flat - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Solitudini care
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Sources: BL Add MSS 14213 & 31509
    Tirsi seems to be unhappy sotto l'ombra again, calling for his beloved Climene in this extraordinarily chromatic cantata Dall'occulto A.S.. In double recit-aria format with frequent tempo changes in the last aria (see MIDI).
    Range: c - f#'

    Editor: Kate Eckersley & James Sanderson
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  • Son contenta di soffrire
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    'I am content to suffer the cruelty of my beloved, because he means more to me than life itself' Yeah right! Another example of Alessandro Scarlatti's sinuous style, with some tremendous chromaticisms. ARA format.
    Range: d - g

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Son io, barbara Donna
    Forces: alto & continuo
    Source: BL Add MS 14213 ff 84r - 87v
    Clori's willful heart has wandered again and her lover reminds her that she will never find another as faithful as he. In double recit-aria format.
    Range: c- d'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Sovra il margine erboso
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    On the banks of a river, our lover spies his beloved and begs her to gaze upon him in the way she gazes on the crystal waters. In RARARA format with some characteristic sinuous harmonies, this is a lovely work!
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung HS 3915(1) - Hanley 681
    Range: d - g'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Su'l margine fiorito d'un limpido ruscello
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    In this large and complex cantata, the protagonist is sitting on the flowery banks of a limpid stream bemoaning the absence of his beloved. He calls to the waves and the wind in the first aria (adagio) to take his love to her, he sings how her image is carved on his heart in the second aria (à tempo guisto) and the final aria is a chromatically complex andante in cut common time. Dated 13th December, 1704 on the first page.
    Source: Münster Santini Sammlung 3907(5)
    Range: d - f'

    Editor: James Sanderson
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  • Tra verdi piante ombrose
    Forces: soprano & continuo
    Once again the God of Love has cast his fiery darts at Mitilde's love and keeps him away from her. Complete with optional continuo realisation.
    Sources: various Italian, British and German institutions.
    Range: d - g'

    Editor: Brian Daw
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