Maddalena Balsamo (Maria Barbara di Braganza)Ruggero Laganà (Musician)Gustav Leonhardt (Self)José Saramago (Self)Shel Shapiro (Sir Charles Burney)
Domenico Scarlatti, the son of Alessandro, was a European musician who, due to familial or existential pressures, cultivated an unusual passion for the musica reservata of the harpsichord, of which he was a great master and with which he won a history-making competition with Handel. His shyness caused him, unlike Alessandro, to forsake becoming a popular figure by performing in theatres. He chose, instead, to spend some forty years teaching the virtuous infanta and future queen of Spain, Maria Barbara of Braganza. His "exercises", intended to be didactic pieces, and were far from the usual compositions for students, and also greatly differed from the music of his day heard in concert halls. The 555 Sonatas (almost 600 at present) neither reflect the conventions of his own time, nor those of the future. They were the result of the legacy that Domenico absorbed from the cultures he came into contact with: Naples, Lusitania, Spain. He created brilliant, atypical forms whose discontinuity and apparent contradiction reveal their originality and extreme modernity. This film is meant to present not so much the biography, as the musical physiognomy (between the surreal and the metaphysical) of a "totally musical" character- for the simple reason that an authentic biographical "body" is missing. The physical places the musician lived in spring from the keys of the harpsichord, magical keys which were precursors for the sounds of modernity, later drawn upon by contemporary composers from various genres, who were inspired by Scarlatti's sonatas to bring his timeless music back to life. Like the places -Naples, Florence, Rome, Venice, Lisbon, Mafra, Seville, Aranjuez, Madrid- later artists, stimulated by Scarlatti's music, also belong to different musical areas and styles. The past comes alive again in the modern era, creating new interest in his music. Places, interpretations, improvisations, compositions, interviews and quotes regard a dozen Sonatas by a great musician who was able to re-invent music, for both his own and our own entertainment.