by Kathleen Scalise
Lost for centuries and finally discovered in Berkeley's music library, an opera by famed composer Alessandro Scarlatti saw its first performance in 300 years at the 1996 Berkeley Festival and Exhibition in June.
John Roberts, a Handel scholar and head of the music library since 1987, found the only complete score of Scarlatti's long lost "L'Aldimiro" on the shelves of his own collection.
"Scarlatti's name has a great cachet," said the delighted Roberts. "He was an extraordinary composer, though we rarely get to hear his operas. He's one of the great figures in the history of Italian music."
During an era dominated by Italian opera, Scarlatti turned Naples into a major center of opera composition beginning with the "L'Aldimiro" production in 1683, but many of his 60-odd operas survive only in fragments or are lost.
The 300-page manuscript Roberts discovered in 1989 is in excellent condition. Bound in parchment and copied in an elegant hand, it has no title page or other identification. So the library knew it only as an untitled, anonymous work until Roberts chanced upon it.