Italian CantataSaturday, December 12, 2016
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Italian Cantata

Drama, Passion and More!
Showcasing one of the most prolific of baroque musical genres with new editions and research of contributors from around the world. Centered around the early to mid 18thC, particularly in Naples and Rome and focussing on work by composers such as Scarlatti, Porpora, Leo, Mancini, Bononcini and Hasse, to name a few.
Constantly expanding, the catalogue of fascinating, challenging and at all times beautiful music is available to browse, preview and purchase. Feel free to make your own contributions, join the team of editors, add to the discussion or simply wander through our site.
There are many opportunities to find the works of Vivaldi, Handel and the other 'big nams' of Baroqe cantata composition. Here you have the unique opportunity to delve into the work of less well-known, but equally important composers who spent their lives writing in the genre, creating, innovating and leading their contemporaries in this form of music.

Read articles about the cantata, composer biographies and other musical matters.

The Italian Cantata

There are few genres which have had such great appeal with both public and composer as the Italian Cantata. From its beginnings in the early 17th century to its great flourishing in the hands of composers such as Alessandro Scarlatti, Nicola Porpora, Leonardo Leo, Johann Adolph Hasse and Georg Frederic Handel in the early part of the 18th century it represented a pinnacle in both performance and composition.

Comprised of recitative and aria with occasional preludes, sinfonie or introduzzione, the form lent itself at different times to both concise and virtuosic treatment, entrusting to the vocal and dramatic ability of both the singer(s) and the accompanying instrumentalists the task of presenting the text (usually pastoral, historical or mythological although occasionally religious as in the Cantata spirituale).

The form could move through the simplest, strophic structures through to the well-known and eventually standard da capo aria format. Simple 'homophonic' songs could co-exist with complex chromatic arias.

Above all, the Italian cantata during this period was an intimate format. Generally written to be performed in camera it was the vocal equivalent of the instrumental sonata.

To perform the cantata well, the singer must feel at home with the text. It is, after all, the inspiration for each new piece. The recitatives must be well prepared as they carry the majority of the text, the story if you will, and often contain the most complex harmonic writing. The interaction between continuo and singer is what creates the intimacy of the performance and each part should give the other the same level of importance. Virtuosity in the arias is important, but above all else: use the text!

James Sanderson
Norfolk, December, 2002



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