Though Alessandro Scarlatti is often credited with creating the Neapolitan school of opera, he was not as influential as the title might suggest; he just wrote with greater skill and originality than his contemporaries.
Born in 1660, he went to Rome as a boy and was appointed maestro di cappella of San Giacomo degli Incurabili in 1679. That same year, his Gli Equivoci nell'amore took the city by storm. In 1684, he took a post for the viceroy of Naples, through the influence of his sister, an opera singer, who was the mistress of an influential Neapolitan noble. Over the next 20 years he was extremely active there, writing over half the operas given at Naples, including Il Pirro e Demetrio and La caduta dei Decemviri. He eventually moved back to Rome where he suffered through a papal ban on public opera by writing cantatas for Roman patrons, which rank among his best, if less popular, works. After his 1707 masterpiece, Mitridate Eupatore, achieved little success in Venice he returned Naples where he wrote his final opera, La Griselda in 1721. He died in October of 1725, leaving behind two notable composers in his sons Domenico and Pietro Filippo.