The Italian overture
is a piece of orchestral music
which was used to open operas
, oratorios and other large-scale works in the late 17th and early 18th century. The structure was particularly popular among Italian composers such as Alessandro Scarlatti
, hence its name.
It is a three-movement structure - the outer movement are quick, the middle movement slow. This structure was the basis of the symphony form, which developed in the early 18th century.
The Italian overture can be contrasted with the French overture, which was popular in France.