Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) was born in Palermo, Sicily. He was taken to study in Rome as a teenager and, whilst he was for a time under the patronage of Queen Christina of Sweden, most of his career was spent in either Rome or Naples, often being driven from pillar to post by his need for patronage and the fluctuating political situation as Spain and Austria disputed control of parts of Italy.
He is known mainly as a composer of operas although there exist some excellent cantatas he wrote during a period as maestro di capella for a cardinal, and an amount of secular instrumental music. He wrote over 100 operas, many of which he was forced to produce in Florence or Venice because of the political turbulence. He is recognised as being in the forefront of developing Italian opera into the form it would enjoy until the reforms of Niccolo Piccinni late in the 18th century.