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ALESSANDRO STRADELLA (?1645–1682)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 976 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ALESSANDRO STRADELLA (?1645–1682), Italian composer, was one of the most accomplished musicians of the 17th century. The hitherto generally accepted story of his life was first circum- stantially narrated in Bonnet-Bourdelot's Histoire de la musique et de ses effets (Paris, 1715). According to this account, Stradella not only produced some successful operas at Venice, but also attained so great a reputation by the beauty of his voice that a Venetian nobleman engaged him to instruct his mistress, Ortensia, in singing. Stradella, the narrative goes on to say, shamefully betrayed his trust, and eloped with Ortensia to Rome, whither the outraged Venetian sent two paid bravi to put him to death. On their arrival in Rome the assassins learned that Stradella had just completed a new oratorio, over the performance of which he was to preside on the following day at S. Giovanni in Laterano. Taking advantage of this circumstance, they deter- mined to kill him as he left the church; but the beauty of the music affected them so deeply that their hearts failed them at the critical moment, and, confessing their treachery, they entreated the composer to !ensure his safety by quitting Rome immediately. Thereupon Stradella fled with Ortensia to Turin, where, notwith- standing the favour shown to him by the regent of Savoy, he was attacked one night by another band of assassins, who, headed by Ortensia's father, left him on the ramparts for dead. Through the connivance of the French ambassador the ruffians succeeded in making their escape; and in the meantime Stradella, recovering from his wounds, married Ortensia, by consent of the regent, and removed with her to Genoa. Here he believed himself safe; but a year later he and Ortensia were murdered in their house by a third party of assassins in the pay of the implacable Venetian. Recent research has shown that Stradella was the son of a Cavaliere Marc' antonio Stradella of Piacenza, who in 1642–1643 was vice-marchese and governor of Vignola for Prince Bon- compagni, who did not wish to live in the dominions from which he took the title of marchese di Vignola. He was deprived of his office in 1643 for having surrendered the castle to the papal troops, although it might have sustained a siege of several days and the help of the duke of Modena was expected. An elder brother of Alessandro, Francesco by name, became a member of the Augustinian order, and seems to have enjoyed the protection of the house of Este. Alessandro is supposed to have been born about 1645 or earlier, probably at Vignola, or Monfestino, a town on the road from Modena to Pistoja, to which his father retired after his dismissal; but no records of his birth have come to light in either of these places. The first certain date in his life is 1672, in which year he composed a prologue for the performance of Cesti's opera La Dori at Rome; and we may conclude that he
End of Article: ALESSANDRO STRADELLA (?1645–1682)
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