Alessandro Stradella (1644-82) is a mid 17th century Roman composer (born in the Province of Viterbo, Lazio) (north of Rome) of great inventiveness and beautiful melodic/counterpuntal writing. His voice lines often exchange motives with the bass line in a real expressive dialogue. His vocal style in this work expresses strong emotional feelings, perfect for the theme of this Roman oratorio on the beheading of St. John the Baptist, which is well sung by the French counter-tenor Gérard Lesne. The long melodic lines and chromaticism of this work are very advanced. The feeling is one of a cantata-like opera, where the music and poetry are on an intimate scale. The Aria Concerto Grosso "Sorde dive, ch'ai mortali" sung gloriously by Catherine Bott (soprano) as Salome, is a sublime masterpiece in minature, an example of florid style, presaging even the late 18th century Romantic coloratura arias of Donizetti, just to give an example of how advanced his writing is. This work is full of vitality and deep emotionalism. Purcell was influenced by it in his writing of the Fairy Queen.
In this budget re-issue the text is provided in English, French and German, but the sung Italian text is not included. This performance won the Gramophone Award for early opera in 1993.