About the Production
For the Palermo-born Alessandro Scarlatti, Rome became the main centre of his working life early on in his career. A protégé of the art-loving Queen Christina of Sweden, he celebrated great successes there from 1679 to 1684, in particular with his operas. After a period in Naples he returned to Rome in 1703. In the meantime, however, opera and theatre performances had been proscribed by the papal decree of 1698, with the result that dramatic subjects could only be set in the guise of oratorios. Thus, with the support of Roman cardinals, Scarlatti’s oratorio oeuvre flourished from 1703 to 1708, gaining dramatic impact and gradually approaching the operatic genre in its reduction of the chorus in favour of increased alternation between recitative and aria. Religious contemplation yielded to the expression of the protagonists’ emotions.
With his Cain, overo Il primo omicidio, written for Venice in 1707, Scarlatti created a masterly interpretation of the Old Testament story of the first murder in the history of humankind. Set in Italian, the language of opera, instead of the customary Latin, it renders the human drama of fraternal resentment, remorse and redemption as the consequence of the expulsion from Paradise.