Alessandro Melani was born in Pistoia in 1639 into an old musical family, the last born child of Domenico di Santi d’Antonio who was at that date the cathedral bell ringer. He was encouraged from an early age in his musical studies as were his other six brothers and sisters of whom one became a composer, four became sopranos and one a bell ringer. Little is known about his musical education but he was registered in the cathedral of Pistoia as a singer between the years of 1650 and 1660. During the following years he worked as the kappelmeister in Orvieto and Ferrara and in 1667 returned to Pistoia in the same position. He then moved to S. Maria Maggiore at Rome and in 1672 transferred to S. Luigi dei Francesi wher he remained till his death in 1703. This latter position was probably gained through the offices of his brother Atto. Atto, singer and diplomat to the court of Louis XIV, was highly considered by this latter and also by Cardinal Giulio Rospigliosi, later to become Pope Clement IX in 1667. In Rome Alessandro Melani worked as a composer both of sacred music and operas, and for the role he played in the musical scene there may be interpreted as the precursor to Alessandro Scarlatti. After some years of stasis the Roman theatres began to show signs of life once more with the performance of Il girello in 1668 composed by Jacopo Melani, Alessandro’s brother. The first datable work by Alessandro, L’empio punito, was first performed the following year. Although not very favourably received initially, the opera was re-proposed both in Florence and Bologna. It is the first musical text that has as its theme the story of Don Giovanni although very different in its setting (Pella, in Greece) and its Arcadian framework. His sacred works are composed of motets for eight, nine and ten voices, some of which were published in three collections, while many others are to be found in miscellaneous collections, some printed, some in manuscript. He wrote eight oratorios amongst which is now lost Lo scisma del sacerdozio. This is a testimonial to his links to the Este family, and in particular to Francesco II, who commissioned the piece in 1690.
L’empio punito, Dramma musicale in tre atti.