The Scarlatti family is one of many musical dynasties in music history. Only two of its number are still well-known today: Alessandro and his son Domenico. Alessandro was born in Palermo as the second son of Pietro Scarlata - the family name in its original form - who was active as a tenor. During his career Alessandro lived and worked in several cities: Rome, Naples and Venice. At a young age he was already a famous and much sought-after composer. His younger brother Francesco – almost forgotten today - was less lucky. He was appointed as violinist at the royal court in Naples in 1684, but returned to Palermo in 1691, and stayed there for about 24 years. He tried to find appointments at the courts of Vienna and Naples, but failed. In 1719 he travelled to London, where he participated in public concerts. In 1733 he went to Dublin, where he seems to have died in 1741 or soon after. Domenico suffered tribulations too. It was only after the death of his father that he felt completely free to follow his own path, although he had left Italy five years earlier, in 1720.
Francesco Feo was one of the greatest Neapolitan composers of the first half of the 18th century. During a career extending from 1713 through 1760, the year before his death, he remained in Naples, where he composed operas, oratorios, cantatas, masses, passions, psalms, and canticles, among other works. His setting of Metastasio’s first opera libretto, Siface, led to commissions from Rome and Turin. His growing fame resulted in commissions from Madrid and Prague; Hasse, resident in Dresden, where Feo’s works were also performed, wanted to entrust Feo with leading the premiere of a serenata he wrote for Naples. The music historian Charles Burney praised his works for their “fire, invention, and force in the melody and expression in the words.”