At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Stefano Landi – composer

Musician whose works influenced development of opera


Stefano Landi had an early influence on the evolution of opera
Stefano Landi had an early influence
on the evolution of opera
Stefano Landi, an influential early composer of opera, died on this day in 1639 in Rome.

He wrote his most famous opera, Sant’Alessio, in 1632, which was the earliest to be about a historical subject, describing the life of the fourth-century monastic, Saint Alexis.

It was also notable for Landi interspersing comic scenes drawn from the contemporary life of Rome in the 17th century.

Born in Rome, Landi had joined the Collegio Germanico as a boy soprano in 1595.

He took minor orders in 1599 and began studying at the Seminario Romano in 1602. He is mentioned in the Seminary’s records as being an organist and singer in 1611.

By 1618 he had moved to northern Italy and he published a book of five-voice madrigals in Venice. He wrote his first opera while in Padua, La morte d’Orfeo, which was probably for part of the festivities for a wedding.

An illustration depicting a scene from Sant'Alessio
An illustration depicting a scene from Sant'Alessio
In 1620 he returned to Rome, where his patrons included the Borghese family, Cardinal Maurizio of Savoy, and the Barberini family, who were to be his major employers throughout the late 1620s and 1630s.

It was for the Barberini family that he wrote the work for which he is most famous, Sant’Alessio. It was used to open the Teatro delle Quattro Fontane in 1632.

After a period of ill health, Landi died in Rome in 1639 and was buried at the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella.

The Palazzo Barberini was completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
The Palazzo Barberini was completed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Travel tip:

The Barbarini family’s most famous Roman residence was the Palazzo Barberini, a 17th-century palace which faces the Piazza Barberini in the Trevi district.  The site was purchased in 1625 by Maffeo Barberini - later Pope Urban VIII - from Cardinal Alessandro Sforza.  Three great architects worked to create the Palazzo, starting with Carlo Maderno, who gave the building its air of princely power and created a garden front that had the nature of a suburban villa. When Maderno died in 1629, it was expected the project would be passed to his nephew, Francesco Borromini, who had been assisting his uncle. Instead, the the commission was awarded to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, a young prodigy then better known as a sculptor, with Borromini at first working alongside him.

The Teatro delle Quattro Fontane is now a cinema complex
The Teatro delle Quattro Fontane is now a cinema complex
Travel tip:

The Teatro delle Quattro Fontane - Theatre of the Four Fountains - was also designed, in part, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and built in 1632 by the Barberini family. It was located in Via delle Quattro Fontane, near the Piazza Barberini and the Quattro Fontane or Four Fountains.  The theatre closedin 1642 at the height of the Barberini Wars of Castro against with the Farnese Dukes of Parma and remained so for more than 10 years then passed before it was reopened and performances recommenced. In 1632, the theatre was rebuilt and remained active until after the Second World War. It was converted into a modern cinema in the 1960s and now houses a multiplex called Multisala Barberini.

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