Trying to find out truth about Alessandro Stradella’s life is like playing a game of Chinese Whispers. Every book or website you read has a different story, each more outlandish than the last.
But real or not, it’s a good read (clearly, we aren’t the only ones to think so, as Stradella’s life was used for the basis of multiple biographic operas and romanticised novels) and so in the run up to The English Concert’s rendition of some of Stradella’s best work as part of our Winter Festival, we’ve picked our favourite story of Alessandro Stradella to tell…
Genius: Stradella was an extremely influential composer of the Baroque period during the third quarter of the 17th century, preceding the likes of Vivaldi and Corelli. Over the span of his lifetime, he wrote more than 170 cantatas, a full-length comic opera Il Trespolo tutore and 27 separate instrumental pieces. Oh, and all before his 25th birthday.
Embezzler: In 1667, in Rome, Stradella attempted to embezzle money from the Catholic Church. He was discovered, and fled the city, returning when safe to have numerous reckless affairs with women, making himself many an enemy in the city and eventually having to leave for good.
Womaniser: In Venice, in 1677, he was hired by nobleman Alvise Contarini to tutor his mistress in music. Predictably so, Stradella began an affair with said mistress, with whom he left Venice for Turin, where Stradella was attacked by two assassins hired by Contarini and left for dead. Luckily, Stradella lived to compose another day, and this time fled to Genoa, where he was paid to compose music for the Teatro Falconi. His luck would not last though, as on 25 February, 1682 he was stabbed, this time to death, at the Piazza Banchi by the brother of one of his many mistresses.
Philosopher: It is said that Stradella had a fascination with the meaning of life. He sought a balanced and moral character which did not come about in his time; but was compensated for in his thoroughly full and meaningful music.
The English Concert is performing works by Stradella and Charpentier on 9 December as part of our Winter Festival 2015.