TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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  George Frideric Handel

I
The Best of Handel
Handel: Oratorio arias

II
Almira - 1705
Rinaldo - 1711
"Water Music" - 1717
"Acis and Galatea" - 1718
"Ottone" - 1723
"Giulio Cesare" - 1724
Rodelinda - 1725
Alcina - 1728
Concerti Grossi, Op. 3 - 1734
"Alexander's Feast" - 1736
"Berenice" - 1737


III
"Saul" - 1739
"Israel in Egypt" - 1739

"Messiah" - 1741
"Samson" 1741-1743
"Belshazzar" - 1744
Judas Maccabaeus - 1746
Solomon - 1748
"Music for the Royal Fireworks" - 1749
"Jephta" - 1751
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CONTENTS
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George Frideric Handel
 
 
 
Almira - 1705
 
Almira, Königin von Castilien (HWV 1) ("Almira, Queen of Castile") (Full title: Der in Krohnen erlangte Glücks-Wechsel, oder: Almira, Königin von Castilien) is George Frideric Handel's first opera. It was first performed in Hamburg in January 1705.
 
Background

Handel came to the city of Hamburg in the summer of 1703 and played as a violinist in the theatre at the Gänsemarkt, the local market place. On later occasions, he also played the harpsichord in the orchestra. His first opera – announced as a Singspiel although it has no spoken dialogue[1] – had its premiere on 8 January 1705 under the direction of Reinhard Keiser, so it is presumed that it must have been composed in the months directly preceding this.
An Italian libretto was written by Giulio Pancieri in Venice in 1691 for Giuseppe Boniventi's opera L'Almira. The German translation used by Handel was made by Christian Feustking. While most of the recited parts and arias are sung in German, some remain untranslated.
Almira is an exception among Handel's operas, in that changed voices rather than castrati are used for all the male roles.

Performance history

Almira was a resounding success. The opera was performed twenty times in total until its place was taken by Handel's next opera, Nero, the music of which has not been preserved.
The first modern performance of Almira took place on the 23 February 1985, in Leipzig, Städtische Oper.

Arrangements

In 1732 the piece was once more performed in a version edited by Georg Philipp Telemann.
In 1879 Franz Liszt composed a transcription of the Sarabande and Chaconne from the opening act of this opera for his English piano student Walter Bache. Noted by critics as one of the most striking of Liszt's late paraphrases as well as his only setting of a baroque piece from his late period, this work is said to anticipate Ferruccio Busoni's late-romantic settings of Bach. Australian Liszt scholar and pianist Leslie Howard has recorded this work as part of Hyperion Records' complete Liszt series.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
Georg Friedrich Handel - Aria from Almira
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sarabande et Chaconne from Almira by Haendel
 
Axel Lenarduzzi play " Sarabande et Chaconne" from the Haendel Opera "Almira"
Piano transcription by Franz Liszt
 
 
 
 
 
 
Händel Sarabande and Chaconne from Opera Almira, HWV1
 
Franz Liszt composed his transcription of the Sarabande and Chaconne from Handel's opera Almira for piano solo (S.181) in 1879 for his English piano student Walter Bache to play at a Handel festival in England. The Almira transcription is noted by critics as one of the most striking of Liszt's late concert arrangements as well as his only setting of a baroque piece from his late period.

Liszt's decision to set Handel was probably due at least in part to please British audiences, for whom Handel was still the preeminent national composer and before whom Bache would likely appear. Nevertheless, the choice of subject matter was surprising, not only by being Handel instead of Bach but also from being taken from a Handel opera which was virtually ignored at the time.

In his most recent baroque transcription prior to Almira, that of Bach's Fantasie and Fugue in G minor BWV542 dating from 1867, Liszt follows the original almost exactly. With Almira, Liszt deviates considerably. While retaining the original contour of Handel's melodies, he changes the order of dances (in the opera the chaconne is followed by the sarabande), then adds introductory, transitional and developmental material along with his own varied treatment of the dances themselves.

Conductor: Leonard Rosenman

 
 
 
 
 
 

Armida falls in love with Rinaldo. 1616 painting by Nicolas Poussin.
 
 
Rinaldo - 1711
 
 
Rinaldo (HWV 7) is an opera by George Frideric Handel composed in 1711. It is the first Italian language opera written specifically for the London stage. The libretto was prepared by Giacomo Rossi from a scenario provided by Aaron Hill. The work was first performed at the Queen's Theatre in London's Haymarket on 24 February 1711. The story of love, battle and redemption set at the time of the First Crusade is loosely based on Torquato Tasso's epic poem Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered), and its staging involved many original and vivid effects. It was a great success with the public, despite negative reactions from literary critics hostile to the trend towards Italian entertainment in English theatres.
Handel composed the music for Rinaldo quickly. Much of it is borrowings and adaptations from operas and other works that Handel had composed during his long stay in Italy during 1706–10. In the years following the premiere, Handel frequently introduced new numbers, discarded others, and transposed parts to different voice ranges. Despite the lack of a standard edition, Rinaldo's spectacular vocal and orchestral passages make it one of Handel's greatest operas. Of its individual numbers, the soprano aria "Lascia ch'io pianga" has become a particular favourite and is a popular concert piece.
Handel went on to dominate opera in England for several decades. Rinaldo was revived in London regularly up to 1717, and a revised version was presented in 1731. The opera was also performed in several European cities. During Handel's lifetime, Rinaldo was the most frequently performed of all the composer's musical dramas.
After 1731, however, the opera was not staged for more than 200 years. Renewed interest in baroque opera during the 20th century led to the first modern professional production in Handel's birthplace, Halle, Germany, in 1954. The opera was mounted sporadically over the following thirty years. After a successful run at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1984, performances and recordings of the work have become more frequent worldwide. The opera's tercentenary in 2011 brought a modernized production at the Glyndebourne Festival.
 
 
Background

Handel began to compose operas in Hamburg, where he spent the years 1703–06; his principal influences were Johann Mattheson and Reinhard Keiser. At that time, German opera as a genre was still not clearly defined; in Hamburg the term Singspiel ("song-play") rather than opera described music dramas that combined elements of French and Italian opera, often with passages of spoken German dialogue. The music was, in the words of historian Donald Jay Grout, "tinged with the serious, heavy formality of Lutheran Germany". The first of Handel's early works in the German style was Almira, a considerable success when it was premiered on 8 January 1705. Over the next three years Handel composed three more operas in the German style, but all of these are now lost. However, fragments of the music from these works have been identified in later operas.

In autumn 1706 Handel went to Italy. He stayed for long periods in Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice, making frequent visits to the opera houses and concert halls. He obtained introductions to leading musicians, among them Arcangelo Corelli, Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, and Agostino Steffani, and met numerous singers and performers. From these acquaintances Handel learned the essential characteristics of Italian music, in particular (according to Dean and Knapp) "fluency in the treatment of Italian verse, accurate declamation and flexible harmonic rhythm in recitative, ... drawing the necessary distinction between vocal and instrumental material and, above all, the release of [his] wonderful melodic gift". Handel's first Italian opera, Rodrigo, showed an incomplete grasp of Italian style, with much of Keiser's Hamburg influence still evident; it was not a success when premiered in Florence, in late November or early December 1707. He followed this by a lengthy visit to Rome, where opera performances were then forbidden by papal decree, and honed his skills through the composition of cantatas and oratorios. In Rome, Handel met Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani, a diplomat and spare-time librettist; the result of this meeting was a collaboration which produced Handel's second Italian opera, Agrippina. After this work's triumphant premiere at the Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo in Venice, on 26 December 1709, Handel became, says biographer P. H. Lang, "world famous and the idol of a spoiled and knowledgeable audience".
This sudden recognition led to eager competition for Handel's services. Among those most keen to employ him was Prince Georg Ludwig, the Elector of Hanover and future King George I of Great Britain. In June 1710 Handel accepted the appointment of Kapellmeister to Georg's Hanover court, under terms that gave him considerable scope to pursue his own interests. On the basis of this freedom, in late 1710 Handel left Hanover for London, possibly in response to an earlier invitation from members of the English nobility. By 1711, informed London audiences had become familiar with the nature of Italian opera through the numerous pastiches and adaptations that had been staged. The former Royal Academy of Music Principal, Curtis Price, writes that the popularity of these pieces was the result of a deliberate strategy aimed at the suppression of English opera. Handel's music was relatively unknown in England, though his reputation from Agrippina was considerable elsewhere. A short "Italian Dialogue" he had written in honour of Queen Anne's birthday was well received when performed at St James's Palace on 6 February 1711.
In London, by means which are not documented, Handel secured a commission to write an Italian opera for the Queen's Theatre in the Haymarket (it became the "King's Theatre" after King George I's accession in 1714). This theatre, designed and built by Sir John Vanbrugh, had become London's main opera house; its manager, Aaron Hill, intended to mount the first Italian opera written specifically for London and had engaged an all-Italian company for the 1710–11 opera season. Hill employed an Italian poet and language teacher, Giacomo Rossi, to write a libretto based on a scenario that Hill prepared himself. As his subject Hill chose Gerusalemme liberata, an epic of the First Crusade by the 16th-century Italian poet Torquato Tasso; the opera was called Rinaldo, after the main protagonist. Hill was determined to exploit to the full the opportunities for lavish spectacle afforded by the theatre's machinery; his aim, according to Dean and Knapp, was "to combine the virtuosity of Italian singing with the extravagance of the 17th century masque".

Synopsis

Act 1
The Crusader army under Goffredo is laying siege to Jerusalem, where the Saracen king Argante is confined with his troops. With Goffredo are his brother Eustazio, his daughter Almirena, and the knight Rinaldo. As Goffredo sings of the coming victory, Rinaldo declares his love for Almirena, and Goffredo confirms that she will be Rinaldo's bride when Jerusalem falls. Almirena urges Rinaldo to fight boldly and assure victory. As she departs, a herald announces the approach of Argante from the city. Eustazio surmises that the king fears defeat; this seems to be confirmed when Argante, after a grandiose entrance, requests a three-day truce to which Goffredo graciously assents. After Goffredo leaves, Argante ponders his love for Armida, the Queen of Damascus who is also a powerful sorceress, and considers the help her powers might bring him. As he muses, Armida arrives from the sky in a fiery chariot. She has divined that the Saracens' only chance of victory lies in vanquishing Rinaldo, and has the power, she claims, to achieve this.
The scene changes to a garden, with fountains and birds, where Rinaldo and Almirena are celebrating their love. They are interrupted as Armida appears, and wrests Almirena from Rinaldo's embrace. Rinaldo draws his sword to defend his lover, but a black cloud descends to envelop Armida and Almirena, and they are borne away. Rinaldo mourns the loss of his loved one. When Goffredo and Eustazio arrive they comfort Rinaldo, and propose they visit a Christian magician who may have the power to save Almirena. Rinaldo, left alone, prays for strength.


Act 2
A sea shore. As Goffredo, Eustazio and Rinaldo near the magician's lair, a beautiful woman calls from her boat, promising Rinaldo that she can take him to Almirena. Two mermaids sing of love's delights, and urge Rinaldo to go in the boat. He hesitates, unsure what to do, and his companions attempt to restrain him. Angry at the abduction of his loved one, Rinaldo enters the boat, which immediately sails off. Goffredo and Eustazio are shocked at Rinaldo's impulsiveness and believe that he has deserted their cause.
In Armida's palace garden, Almirena mourns her captivity. Argante joins her and, overcome by her beauty, confesses that he now loves her. He promises that as proof of his feelings he will defy Armida's wrath and secure Almirena's freedom. Meanwhile Rinaldo is brought before the triumphant Armida. As he demands that Almirena be set free, Armida finds herself drawn to his noble spirit, and declares her love. When he angrily rejects her she uses her powers to assume Almirena's form, but Rinaldo suspects trickery, and departs. Armida, resuming her own appearance, is furious at her rejection yet retains feelings of tender love. She decides on another attempt to ensnare Rinaldo, and transforms herself back into Almirena's shape, but then encounters Argante. Believing her to be Almirena, Argante repeats his earlier promises of love and freedom. Swiftly resuming her own form, Armida denounces his infidelity and vows vengeance. Argante defiantly confirms his love for Almirena and declares that he no longer needs Armida's help. She departs in a fury.

Act 3
A mountainside, at the magician's cavern. Goffredo and Eustazio are told by the Magician that Almirena is being held captive in Armida's palace at the mountain-top. Ignoring the magician's warning that they will need special powers, the pair set off for the palace but are quickly driven back by Armida's monsters. The magician then gives them magic wands that transcend Armida's power, and they set off again. This time they overcome the monsters, but as they reach the gates of the palace it disappears, leaving them clinging to a rock in the midst of a stormy sea. They climb the rock and descend out of sight.
In the palace garden Armida prepares to kill Almirena. Rinaldo draws his sword, but Armida is protected from his wrath by spirits. Suddenly Goffredo and Eustazio arrive, but as they touch the garden with their wands it disappears, leaving them all on an empty plain with the city of Jerusalem visible in the distance. Armida, after a last attempt to kill Almirena, also disappears as Rinaldo strikes her with his sword. The remaining four celebrate their reunion, while Goffredo announces that the attack on Jerusalem will begin the next day.
In the city, Argante and Armida, in danger from a common enemy, become reconciled and prepare their troops for battle. Goffredo's army advances, and battle finally commences. After a struggle for supremacy, Jerusalem falls to Goffredo; Argante is overcome and captured by Rinaldo, while Armida is taken by Eustazio. Rinaldo and Almirena celebrate their love and forthcoming marriage. Armida, accepting her defeat, breaks the wand which is the source of her evil power and together with Argante embraces Christianity. Goffredo expresses his forgiveness to his beaten foes and sets them free, before victors and vanquished join in a chorus of reconciliation.

Revisions, 1717 and 1731
The opera was frequently revised, most particularly in 1717 and in 1731; modern performances are usually a conflation of the versions available. Up to and including 1717, these changes had no significant effect on the plot. In the 1731 version, however, in Act 2 Armida imitates Almirena's voice rather than assuming her appearance, and Argante declares his love to Almirena's portrait rather than to her face. In Act 3 the marches and the battle scene are cut; Armida and Argante remain unrepentant and vanish in a chariot drawn by dragons before the conclusion.



Pages from the 1711 libretto; Italian on the left, English translation on the right


Compositional history
In a letter dedicating the new opera to Queen Anne, Hill wrote of his choice of story: "I could not chuse a finer Subject than the celebrated story of Rinaldo and Armida". He had, however, exercised "a Poet's Privilege", to render Tasso's work suitable for the stage. This "privilege" moved the opera's story a long way from Tasso's original. Hill invented a new heroine, Almirena, to provide the main love interest with the hero Rinaldo, and the relationship between Rinaldo and Armida scarcely figures in the opera. Likewise, the affair between Argante and Armida is Hill's creation, as are the conversions to Christianity, the latter possibly a sop to English susceptibilities. Rossi was required to turn the elaborate scenario into verses, a relatively light task which, he said, was "the delivery of a few evenings". Nevertheless, Rossi complained that Handel hardly gave him time to write: "To my great wonder I saw an entire Opera set to music by that surprising genius, with the greatest degree of perfection, in two weeks". Price argues that Rossi's role was beyond that of a mere versifier, quoting Hill's words of praise for Rossi in the preface to the libretto, which suggest that Rossi was the senior partner in the birth of the libretto. Price also points to the likely influences on the structure of Rinaldo from two British semi-operas—George Granville's The British Enchanters, and Purcell's King Arthur. The transformations of characters to others' shapes, Price contends, is likely derived from John Dryden's play Amphitryon.
Handel's speed of composition was assisted by his inclusion of arias and other numbers from his earlier Italian works, among them "Bel piacere" and "Basta che sol" from Agrippina, "Sibillar gli angui" from the dramatic cantata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, and the mermaids' song "Il vostro maggio" from the cantata Arresta il passo. Almirena's aria "Lascia ch'io pianga" had appeared in the oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. The suitability of some of these insertions has been questioned by later commentators; Dean and Knapp cite Argante's "Sibillar gli angui", with its references to the hissing snakes of Alecto and the howls of Scylla, as "ludicrously inappropriate" to accompany the king's grand Act 1 entrance. Many other numbers—Dean and Knapp estimate two-thirds of the arias—were adapted and partly recomposed from earlier sources.
In the years between the 1711 premiere and the 1717 revival, Handel made various adjustments to the score and the vocal parts, often to accommodate the requirements of new singers. Details of these changes are difficult to establish since the performing librettos and scores for these years no longer exist. For 1717, more significant revisions were made; the role of Eustazio was merged with that of Goffredo, and Argante's part was rewritten to accommodate an alto voice. Thus in this revival all the principal parts were sung in high voice ranges. Handel's revisions for the 1731 revival were even more radical, since they not only affected individual musical numbers but involved alterations in the plot. The production was advertised "With New Scenes and Cloathes", but many of the changes involved reducing or eliminating the pyrotechnics and special effects that had characterised the original production. The only significant new music in the 1731 production is a long accompanied recitative for Rinaldo, though other numbers are changed or cut. Goffredo becomes a tenor, Armida a contralto, the Herald and the Magician become basses. Dean and Knapp summarise the 1731 revisions as "a striking illustration of the seeming vandalism with which Handel could treat his works in revival".

Performance history and reception

Early performances
The opera house in the Haymarket – first known as the Queen's Theatre and then later as the King's Theatre – where many of Handel's works, including Rinaldo, were first performed
The 19th-century music critic George Hogarth wrote of Rinaldo that "[t]he romantic interest of the subject, the charms of the music, and the splendour of the spectacle, made it an object of general attraction". Its premiere at the Queen's Theatre on 24 February 1711, possibly under Handel's direction, was a triumphant success. A further 12 performances were immediately scheduled; at the end of the run, popular demand was such that two more were added. Notwithstanding this enthusiasm, the financial strains of such a grand production led to legal actions against Hill from unpaid craftsmen. Nine days after the premiere the Lord Chamberlain's Office revoked the impresario's licence. Under Hill's successors the opera was played at the theatre in most seasons until 1716–17, by which time it had totalled 47 performances, far more than any other opera at the Queen's.
The public's general enthusiasm for the opera was not shared by the writers Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, who used the pages of their new journal, The Spectator, to pour scorn and ridicule on the work. Addison may have been motivated by his own failure, a few years previously, to establish a school of English opera with Rosamund, on which he had collaborated with the composer Thomas Clayton. It was absurd, he wrote, that theatre audiences should be exposed to entire evenings of entertainment in a foreign tongue: "We no longer understand the language of our own stage". Addison did, however, praise the singing of Nicolo Grimaldi, the celebrated alto castrato known as "Nicolini", in the title role. Steele compared the production unfavourably to a Punch and Judy show, particularly criticising certain bungled scene changes and the poor quality of effects such as thunder and lightning. Hogarth made light of such comments: "Notwithstanding the influence which the Spectator influenced over the taste and manners of the age, its attacks ... seem to have had little effect in turning people from the entertainment".
Some sources have suggested that the opera was performed in Dublin in March or April 1711, though according to Dean and Knapp there is no record of such an occasion. In November 1715 a version mainly in German was performed in Hamburg. This production, based on a translation by the playwright Barthold Feind, proved to be very popular and was revived in the city on numerous occasions during the 1720s. A pastiche of the opera, with additional numbers by Leonardo Leo, was presented by Leo at the Royal Court in Naples in 1718, with Nicolini singing his original role.
After 1716–17, Rinaldo was not seen on the London stage until 1731, when it was revived in its revised form at the King's Theatre. During these years Handel's industry was such that he was producing a new opera for this theatre every nine months. The 1731 production of Rinaldo received six performances, bringing the London total for the work to 53 in Handel's lifetime, the most for any of his operas. After 1731 Handel had fewer stage successes, and performances of his operas became rarer. Changes in taste and style combined, as Grout concludes, to "thrust [the operas] into ill-deserved oblivion", as a result of which Rinaldo was not staged anywhere for two hundred years.


Modern revivals

The first 20th-century production of Rinaldo which can be specifically verified was a performance in London, in February 1933, by pupils of the Hammersmith Day Continuation School, though Dean and Knapp mention a shortened version, in Czech, at the Prague Conservatory in 1923.[ The first modern professional performance was at the Halle Opera House in June 1954, under Horst-Tanu Margraf, as part of the Handel Festival. On 17 May 1961 the Handel Opera Society, directed by Charles Farncombe, staged the work at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre, a production that was revived four years later. The first American performance was a concert version at Carnegie Hall on 27 March 1972, given by the Handel Society of New York, with Stephen Simon conducting and Beverly Wolff as Rinaldo. The first staging of the opera in America was at the Houston Grand Opera under Lawrence Foster, in October 1975, with Marilyn Horne in the title role, a part with which she would become particularly associated.
In July 1982 Horne sang the part alongside John Alexander's Goffredo and Samuel Ramey's Argante, in a National Arts Centre (NAC) production in Ottawa designed by Frank Corsaro. The performance, with Mario Bernardi conducting the NAC Orchestra, was applauded by Montreal Gazette critic Eric McLean for its fine music making and its displays of "architectural and sartorial splendour". Eighteen months later, on 19 January 1984 Bernardi and Corsaro, with Horne, Ramey and Benita Valente from the Ottawa cast, brought the production to New York for the work's debut at the Metropolitan Opera. The production was loaned to the Met for its centennial season by the National Arts Centre of Canada "in deep appreciation of the many years during which Canadians have enjoyed opera from the Met – on tour, on radio and in New York". Donal Henahan in The New York Times praised all the singers in turn, with a special mention for Valente's "plaintive and affecting" rendering of the popular aria "Lascia ch'io pianga". But, says Henahan, "the loudest cheers of the night went at last to the choreographer, Eugene Collins, and an incredibly nimble corps of tumbling warriors". After ten performances at the Metropolitan Opera House the production was taken in May to Washington, D.C., and toured in the US before returning to New York in June for several outdoors performances.
From the mid-1980s onwards, performances of Rinaldo became more frequent worldwide. In June 1989 it was staged at La Fenice in Venice, under John Fisher, again with Marilyn Horne. This production was criticised by critic and music scholar Stanley Sadie, in his review of the live recording, for straying too far from the composer's original intentions, particularly in the rearrangement of material and the extent of cuts. Singers were, Sadie says, allowed too much freedom to ornament their vocal lines; some of the cadenzas were "preposterous". The opera reached Australia in 1999, at the Sydney Opera House under Patrick Summers, and was performed there again in July–August 2005 under Trevor Pinnock, with Michael Chance as Rinaldo. The new century saw a number of performances across Europe, including an appearance at the Göttingen International Handel Festival in 2004, with Nicholas McGegan conducting Concerto Köln. This production was well received by the public, but was criticised by Jochen Breiholz of Opera News for poor staging, indifferent singing and a substandard performance from the orchestra.
Zurich Opera's 2008 production, directed by Jens-Daniel Herzog and conducted by William Christie, threw aside all convention by representing the action in a 21st-century airport lounge and conference centre, with Rinaldo dressed in a double-breasted navy blazer and needing a drink. "Characters go up and down on-stage escalators, and the set spins to show various areas of the lounge and terminal. There is a dissection of a small, white furry animal, a large snake, some allusions to Bond girls and character transformations. The Christians pull guns on the Muslims at a signing ceremony". It was, wrote Associated Press critic Ronald Blum, "outrageous – and entertaining". A concert version of Rinaldo was given at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival, by the Bach Collegium Japan conducted by Masaaki Suzuki, with the Japanese soprano Maki Mori as Almirena.
During the opera's tercentenary year in 2011, the Glyndebourne Festival mounted a new production directed by Robert Carsen, designed by Gideon Davey, and conducted by Ottavio Dantone with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the pit. The production is set in a school where Rinaldo is a student, initially the victim of bullying, who enters into the world of the Crusades. The Glyndebourne Festival Opera brought a semi-staged version of this production to the 2011 Proms.


Music

The amount of recycled music in Rinaldo is such that Dean and Knapp call it an "anthology" of the best works from Handel's Italian period. Sadie raises the question of whether the opera's dramaturgy is affected by the small amount of music written for its particular situations. He also comments on the problems raised for scholars by the extensive revisions to the music that took place during Handel's lifetime, but suggests that the available admixture creates interesting opportunities in the preparation of modern performing versions. The initial popular success of Rinaldo was assisted by the employment of virtuoso singers, in particular Nicolini in the title role. This part has remained in its original pitch, though in his various revisions Handel transposed the music of other leading roles to different voice types. Thus Goffredo had originally been an alto part, but in the 1717 revisions became a tenor; the Magician was transposed from alto castrato to bass, and Armida from soprano to contralto.
The music, Lang says, flows "beguilingly" from the spacious overture; the quieter, emotional passages are illustrated evocatively, while in the more spectacular moments Handel's innovative use of brass is exciting and inspiring. The sudden blast of trumpets which announces the Act 3 March provides, say Dean and Knapp, "an effect of splendour and exhilaration that time has not dimmed". The harpsichord solos which decorate "Vo' far guerra" in Act 2 were originally improvised on the keyboard by Handel during performances, and were extremely popular. They were remembered and written down by William Babell, and published later as separate pieces. Lang believes that in spite of the borrowings, and the hasty manner in which the work was put together, Rinaldo is one of Handel's great operas. According to Dean and Knapp, no Italian opera heard in London to that point had been supported by such "majestic" orchestral forces. Critic Anthony Hicks describes the music, overall, as both "varied and excellent". Dean and Knapp's verdict is more equivocal. The music for the war and pageantry scenes, they say, is "brilliantly successful", but in depicting the scenes concerned with magic, Handel misses the mark; they suggest it was not until 1719, with Alcina and Orlando, that he was able to represent the supernatural convincingly in music.
The opera begins in the key of F, and switches to G at the inception of the grove scene in Act 1. Act 2 starts in E minor and ends in G. The final act begins and ends in B minor. According to Hicks the dominant character musically, except in Act 3 in which she barely sings, is Armida. Her entry cavatina "Furie terribili" gives, says Hicks, "an immediate impression of fiery passion", an energy and intensity demonstrated in her Act 2 "Ah crudel", and in her later vengeance aria which is the occasion of Handel's harpsichord cadenzas. Armida's Act 3 duet with Argante was the last duet with bass part that Handel wrote for 30 years. Of the other set pieces, Dean and Knapp highlight Rinaldo's "Cara sposa" as an example of Handel's growing confidence with aria forms. "Or la tromba" is praised for the brilliance of its orchestration: 4 trumpets, drums, strings & oboes—the only aria Handel ever wrote for this combination. The melody for Almirena's "Lascia ch'io pianga" began its life as an Asian dance in Almira before appearing as an aria in the oratorio Il trionfo. From this simple tune and plain accompaniment Handel achieves an "intensely moving effect" in this, the best-known of all the arias.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
 
 
 
 
Rinaldo de Handel marilyn horne completa
 
fantastica version de una de las operas de Handel el Rinaldo
Rinaldo (Christian knight) ::: Marilyn Horne (mezzo-soprano)
Goffredo (Christian Crusade leader) ::: Ernesto Palacio (tenor)
Almirena (Daughter of Goffredo, loves Rinaldo) ::: Cecilia Gasdia (soprano)
Argante (Saracen King of Jerusalem) ::: Natale de Carolis (baritone)
Armida (Argante's sorceress mistress) ::: Christine Weidinger (soprano)
Mago Cristiano (Christian magician!) ::: Carlo Colombara (baritone)
Conductor: John Fisher / Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice di Venezia
espero les guste, si bien a mi me parece una version de ser escuchada
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Georg Frideric Handel - Rinaldo - "Lascia ch'io pianga" (Arleen Auger)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Water Music" - 1717
 
The Water Music is a collection of orchestral movements, often published as three suites, composed by George Frideric Handel. It premiered on 17 July 1717 after King George I had requested a concert on the River Thames.
The Water Music is scored for a relatively large orchestra, making it suitable for outdoor performance. Some of the music is also preserved in arrangement for a smaller orchestra: this version is not suitable for outdoor performance, as the sound of stringed instruments does not carry well in the open air.
 
 
Structure

The Water Music opens with a French overture and includes minuets, bourrées and hornpipes. It is divided into three suites:

Suite in F major (HWV 348)
Overture (Largo – Allegro)
Adagio e staccato
Allegro – Andante – Allegro da capo Aria
Minuet
Air
Minuet
Bourrée
Hornpipe
Allegro (no actual tempo marking)
Allegro (variant)
Alla Hornpipe (variant)

Suite in D major (HWV 349)

Overture (Allegro)
Alla Hornpipe
Minuet
Lentement
Bourrée

Suite in G major (HWV 350)
Allegro
Rigaudon
Allegro
Minuet
Allegro

There is evidence for the different arrangement found in Chrysander's Gesellschaft edition of Handel's works (in volume 47, published in 1886), where the movements from the "suites" in D and G were mingled and published as one work with HWV 348. This sequence derives from Samuel Arnold's first edition of the complete score in 1788 and the manuscript copies dating from Handel's lifetime. Chrysander's edition also contains an earlier version of the first two movements of HWV 349 in the key of F major composed in 1715 (originally scored for two natural horns, two oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo), where in addition to the horn fanfares and orchestral responses, the original version contained an elaborate concerto-like first violin part.
The music in each of the suites has no set order today.

First performance

The first performance of the Water Music suites is recorded in the Daily Courant, a London newspaper. At about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 July, 1717, King George I and several aristocrats boarded a royal barge at Whitehall Palace for an excursion up the Thames toward Chelsea. The rising tide propelled the barge upstream without rowing. Another barge provided by the City of London contained about fifty musicians who performed Handel's music. Many other Londoners also took to the river to hear the concert. According to the Courant, "the whole River in a manner was couver'd" with boats and barges. On arriving at Chelsea, the king left his barge, then returned to it at about 11 p.m. for the return trip. The king was so pleased with the Water Music that he ordered it to be repeated at least three times, both on the trip upstream to Chelsea and on the return, until he landed again at Whitehall.
King George's companions in the royal barge included Anne Vaughan, the Duchess of Bolton, the Duchess of Newcastle, the Duke of Kingston, the Countess of Darlington, the Countess of Godolphin, Madam Kilmarnock, and the Earl of Orkney. Handel's orchestra is believed to have performed from about 8 p.m. until well after midnight, with only one break while the king went ashore at Chelsea.
It was rumoured that the reason for the spectacular performance of the Water Music was purposed to help King George to steal back some of the London spotlight back from the prince, who at the time was worried that his time to rule would be shortened due to his father's long life, and was throwing lavish parties and dinners to compensate for it. In a long term, the Water Music's first performance on the water was the King's way of reminding London that he was still there, and showing he could carry out gestures of even more grandeur than his son.

Legends

Legend has it that Handel composed Water Music to regain the favour of King George I. Handel had been employed by the future king before George succeeded to the British throne while he was still Elector of Hanover. The composer supposedly fell out of favour for moving to London in the reign of Queen Anne. This story was first related by Handel's early biographer John Mainwaring; although it may have some foundation in fact, the tale as told by Mainwaring has been doubted by some Handel scholars.
Another legend has it that the Elector of Hanover approved of Handel's permanent move to London, knowing the separation between them would be temporary. Both were allegedly aware the Elector of Hanover would eventually succeed to the British throne after Queen Anne's death.

Popular culture and the media

Many portions of Water Music have become familiar. Between 1959 and 1988 a Water Music movement was used for the ident of Anglia Television. The D major movement in 3/2 meter subtitled "Alla Hornpipe" is particularly notable and has been used frequently for television and radio commercials, including commercials for the privatisation of the UK water companies in the late 1980s. The "Air" and "Bourrée" from the F major "suite" have also become popular with audiences, with the latter being the theme music to the popular PBS cooking show The Frugal Gourmet.
From 1977 to 1996, Walt Disney World featured moments from both instalments of Water Music as the background music for the Electrical Water Pageant, a parade of sea creatures lit up with electric lights off the coast of the Magic Kingdom.
Allegro in D was used in an inspirational scene from the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams and Ethan Hawke.

Recordings

There are many recordings. The Music for the Royal Fireworks, composed more than thirty years later for another outdoor performance, has often been paired with the Water Music on recordings. Together, these works constitute Handel's most famous music for orchestra. Older recordings tended to use arrangements of Handel's score for the modern orchestra, for example the arrangements by Hamilton Harty and Leopold Stokowski. More recent recordings tend to use authentic instruments and historically informed performance methods appropriate for baroque music.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
 
HAENDEL - WATER MUSIC (GAV Direttore LUCA PACCAGNELLA)
 
WATER MUSIC (1717)

SUITE n° 1 in FA maggiore HWV 348
SUITE n° 2 in RE maggiore HWV 349
SUITE n° 3 in SOL maggiore HWV 350

GIOVANI ARCHI VENETI (GAV)
VENEZZE WIND ENSEMBLE

Direttore LUCA PACCAGNELLA

FESTIVAL D' AUTOMNE 2010 "LES FETES DE L'EAU"
Collegiale de CANDES SAINT-MARTIN
Les Saison de Musique et Patrimoine en pays du Chinonois
Region de la Loire - FRANCE

 
 
 
 
 
 
"Acis and Galatea" - 1718
 
 

Nicolas Poussin's painting of 1630 of the love of Acis and Galatea
 
 
Acis and Galatea (HWV 49) is a musical work by George Frideric Handel with an English text by John Gay. The work has been variously described as a serenata, a masque, a pastoral or pastoral opera, a "little opera" (in a letter by the composer while it was being written), an entertainment and in the New Grove Dictionary of Music an oratorio. The work was originally devised as a one act masque which premiered in 1718.
Handel later adapted the piece into a three act serenata for the Italian opera troupe in London in 1732, which incorporated a number of songs (still in Italian) from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, his 1708 setting of the same story to different music. He later adapted the original English work into a two act work in 1739.
Acis and Galatea was the pinnacle of pastoral opera in England. Indeed several writers, such as musicologist Stanley Sadie, consider it the greatest pastoral opera ever composed. As is typical of the genre, Acis and Galatea was written as a courtly entertainment about the simplicity of rural life and contains a significant amount of wit and self-parody. The secondary characters, Polyphemus and Damon, provide a significant amount of humor without diminishing the pathos of the tragedy of the primary characters, Acis and Galatea. The music of the first act is both elegant and sensual, while the final act takes on a more melancholy and plaintive tone. Unique among Handel's compositional output, the opera was significantly influenced by the pastoral operas presented at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane during the early 18th century. Reinhard Keiser and Henry Purcell also served as influences, but overall the conception and execution of the work is wholly individual to Handel.
Acis and Galatea was by far Handel's most popular dramatic work and is his only stage work never to have left the opera repertory. The opera has been adapted numerous times since its premiere, with a notable arrangement being made by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1788. Handel never gave the work in the form in which it is generally heard today, since it contains music which, while by Handel, was never added by him.
 
 
Composition history

Handel composed the first version of Acis and Galatea while he was living at Cannons (the seat of James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos) during 1717–1718. It was Handel’s first dramatic work in the English language and was clearly influenced by the English pastoral operas of Johann Ernst Galliard and Johann Christoph Pepusch, of whom the latter worked with Handel at Cannons. The work is set to a libretto by John Gay which is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses, xiii (see Acis and Galatea (mythology)), and there is some uncertainty as to whether he was the only author of the text. The structure of the writing indicates that the original work by Gay was intended for only three characters and that the text for more characters was added later, possibly by John Hughes or Alexander Pope whose writings were added to the work's text. The libretto also borrowed freely from John Dryden's English translation of Ovid published in 1717, The Story of Acis, Polyphemus and Galatea.
Acis and Galatea was first performed in the summer of 1718 at Cannons with local tradition holding that the work was performed outside on the terraces overlooking the garden. This is the period in which the gardens at Cannons were being extensively 'improved' with water features that included an impressive jet d'eau, and so the choice of Acis and Galatea at this time, given that the conclusion requires a fountain, seems particularly apt.
It is not clear whether the original performance was staged, semi-staged, or performed as a concert work. The Cannons version included only five singers – a soprano, three tenors and a bass – who not only sang the principal roles but also served as the "chorus". This version contained the character of Coridon who was subsequently deleted from later versions. Aside from the aria "As when the dove," which is a reworking of "Amo Tirsi" from Handel's cantata Clori, Tirsi e Fileno, all of the music was original to this production. Perhaps the best-known arias from this piece are the bass solo: "I rage, I melt, I burn" and the tenor aria "Love in her eyes sits playing". The instrumental music for this first version was orchestrated for a minimum of seven players (basso continuo, strings, and oboes doubling recorders, however it is possible that the violins were doubled to add a fuller sound, and some early copies indicate the use of bassoons.
The opera was first published in 1722, and enjoyed a number of amateur performances in England from as early as 1719.


Performance history

The work was not revived again professionally until 1731, when one performance was given in London without Handel’s involvement. The following year, a staged production of the work was put on by Thomas Arne and John Frederick Lampe at the Little Theatre in the Haymarket. The production starred Thomas Mountier as Acis and Susannah Maria Cibber as Galatea. Arne advertised the work as "with all the Grand Chorus’s, Scenes, Machines, and other Decorations; being the first Time it ever was performed in a Theatrical Way’."
The Little Theatre's production was highly successful and Handel, somewhat annoyed by the way Arne had promoted the production, chose to retaliate by adapting the work substantially into a three act serenata. This revised version incorporated a significant amount of music from his cantata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo (1708), as well as other music from further Italian cantatas and his Italian operas. The arias "Un sospiretto" and "Come la rondinella" were adapted from his cantata Clori, Tirsi e Fileno. The revised version was performed in a concert format in 1732 by the Italian opera in London and, according to Handel, included "a great Number of the best Voices and Instruments". The work was advertised on posters saying the following, "There will be no Action on the Stage, but the Scene will represent, in a Picturesque Manner, a rural Prospect, with Rocks, Groves, Fountains and Grotto’s; amongst which will be disposed a Chorus of Nymphs and Shepherds, Habits, and every other Decoration suited to the Subject." Although successful, the three act version was not as well received as Arne's production, as the mix of style and languages made the work oddly devised. Handel continued to make alterations to his 1732 version for successive performances up through 1741. He also gave performances of the original English work, adapting it into its two act form in 1739.
Handel's two act English version is the basis for the form of the work that is most often performed today, although modern productions typically use a different arrangement than one that he himself actually devised. The work became Handel's most widely performed dramatic work during his lifetime, and has had a number of revivals in various forms, enjoying several performances throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Notably in 1788, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart rescored the work for his then-patron Baron Gottfried van Swieten.

 
 
Synopsis

Since Acis and Galatea has been adapted many times, it is impossible to provide a single synopsis that accurately reflects every presentation of the work. The following is a synopsis for the typical two act presentation of the work that is most often used for modern performances.

Act 1

Shepherds and nymphs enjoy "the pleasure of the plains". Galatea, a semi-divine nymph, is in love with the shepherd Acis, and tries to hush the birds that ignite her passion for him ("Hush, ye pretty warbling quire!") Acis's close friend, the shepherd Damon, provides counsel to the lovers as they pursue each other. He sings a beautiful siciliana-style serenade, "Love in her eyes sits playing", upon their first meeting. The act closes with a duet by the young lovers, "Happy we", which is echoed by a chorus (not in the Cannons original).

Act 2

The opera shifts from its pastoral and sensual mood into an elegiac quality as the chorus warns Acis and Galatea about the arrival of a monstrous giant, Polyphemus, singing "no joy shall last". The fugal minor-key of the chorus's music along with the percussive lines in the lower instruments, indicating the heavy footsteps of the giant, provides an effective dramatic transition into the more serious nature of the second act. Polyphemus enters singing of his jealous love for Galatea, "I rage, I melt, I burn", which is in a part-comic furioso accompanied recitative. This is followed by his aria "O ruddier than the cherry" which is written in counterpoint to a sopranino recorder. Polyphemus threatens force but is somewhat soothed by the impartial shepherd, Coridon ("Would you gain the tender creature"). Meanwhile, Acis ignores Damon’s warning of the fleeting existence of love's delight ("Consider, fond shepherd") and responds hostilely with the determination to resist ("Love sounds th’ alarm"). Acis and Galatea promise eternal fidelity to each other in what begins as a duet ("The flocks shall leave the mountains") but ultimately turns into a trio when Polyphemus intrudes and brutally murders Acis in a rage. Galatea, along with the chorus, mourns the loss of her love ("Must I my Acis still bemoan"). The chorus reminds her of her deity and that with her divine powers she can transform Acis's corpse into a beautiful fountain. The opera closes with Galatea's larghetto air, "Heart, the seat of soft delight", where she exerts her powers to enact the transformation, ending with the chorus celebrating Acis's immortalisation.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
 
HANDEL - ACIS AND GALATEA - WALTER GOEHR ( 1951 )
 
Margaret Ritchie - Richard Lewis - Trevor Anthony - William Herbert
Choir and Orchestra of the Handel Society
Direction WALTER GOEHR

enregistré en 1951 Vinyl Concert Hall

 
 
 
 
Handel - Acis and Galatea
 
Boston Early Music Festival presents the original 1718 chamber version of Handel's opera in a Chamber production at NEC's Jordan Hall.

The production will go on tour in the spring of 2011 to Seattle, Vancouver, Kansas City, and New York City. There will also be encore presentations at the 2011 Boston Early Music Festival in June.

 
 
 
 
 
 
"Ottone" - 1723
 
 
Ottone, re di Germania (Otto, King of Germany; HWV 15) is an opera by George Frideric Handel, to an Italian–language libretto adapted by Nicola Francesco Haym from the libretto by Stefano Benedetto Pallavicino for Antonio Lotti's opera Teofane. It was the first new opera written for the Royal Academy of Music (1719)'s fourth season. Handel had completed the first version on 10 August 1722, but revised the opera before its first performance.
 
Performance history
The premiere, on 12 January 1723 at the King's Theatre, Haymarket, also marked the London debut of Francesca Cuzzoni as Teofane. The opera was a great success in Handel's lifetime, and received revivals in December 1723, 1726, 1727 and 1733, in some cases with additional music. Ottone also is notable as the only Handel opera in which Farinelli appeared, in the role of Adelberto, in December 1734. In Germany, Ottone was staged in Brunswick (Braunschweig) and Hamburg in the 1720s. The next production in Germany, on 5 July 1921 in Göttingen, was the first revival of any Handel opera in the twentieth century. In the UK, the next production after 1734 was given by the Handel Opera Society on 19 October 1971 at Sadler's Wells Theatre.

Prologue
Ottone's father had sent him to Italy to fight the Greeks in their battle for Italy. Ottone prevailed over the Greeks, and the Saracens as well. Having obtained a peace agreement with the Greeks, he acquired as his fiancée Teofane, the daughter of Romano, the Eastern Emperor. Basilio, Theophane's brother, had been driven into exile by "the Tyrant" Nicephoro, until his recall, years later, by Zemisces to assist in governing the empire. However, Basilio had become a pirate during his exile, and took on the name of Emireno. Unaware of Ottone's victories, he gave chase to the escort which was transporting Teofane back to Rome, and was captured. Meanwhile, Adelberto, son of the "Tyrant in Italy" Berengario, under the influence of his mother Gismonda, instigated a rebellion by Rome against the Germans. The "Argument" acknowledged these events as historical.
The "Argument" then went on to mention the fictional events for dramatic purposes initiating from the capture of Teofane by Adelberto, and that Teofane falls in love with Adelberto while he is incognito in Constantinople.

Act 1

After Gismonda has instigated the rebellion, she persuades Adelberto to pose as Ottone as he tries to win Teofane over. Teofane had, prior to this, fallen in love with Ottone's portrait, and when she meets Adelberto (as Ottone), the discrepancy in the appearances disconcerts her. Meanwhile, the captured Emireno continues to conceal his identity from Ottone. Matilda, cousin of Ottone and the fiancée of Adelberto, demands troops to avenge Adelberto's revolt and betrayed faith. Praising Matilda as a "brave German Amazon", Ottone assents. Adelberto is on the brink of winning Teofane's hand, but then learns that Ottone is drawing near. Gismonda arms Adelberto and sends him off into battle.
Act 2
Adelberto has been captured. In the meantime, Matilda's attitude toward Adelberto has begun to soften, and she has a meeting with Gismonda. Later, she visits Ottone just before he and Teofane are to meet for the first time, and she begs for mercy on behalf of Adelberto. Ottone disdains the request, but embraces Adelberto out of pity. Teofane sees this and jumps to the conclusion that he is unfaithful.
The next scene is in a garden near the River Tiber, at night. From an underground passage, Emireno and Adelberto have escaped, with the presumed surreptitious assistance of Matilda. Before a boat manned by several of Emireno's men leads them off, Emireno has abducted Teofane, who was walking dejectedly in the garden and faints upon being captured. Gismonda and Matilda are pleased that the night has furthered their plans.
Act 3
Gismonda is gloating over Ottone's misfortunes. A storm has caused Emireno and Adelberto to put in to land. Emireno then realises who Teofane is, but continues to conceal his own identity. He does try to embrace her, but Teofane and Adelberto look upon this as some sort of advance on her. Emireno orders the arrest of Adelberto, and tries to calm Teofane's suspicions, but leaves without giving a full explanation. Teofane prays for death.
Matilda then explains to Ottone about Teofane's capture. Gismonda, in turn, says that Matilda had helped in the escape of Emireno and Adelberto. Matilda becomes remorseful. Adelberto then is brought in, in chains. Matilda thinks of stabbing Adelberto, but her resolve fails. Contemptuous of this weakness, Gismonda tries to take her own life, but the arrival of Teofane stops this. The entire situation becomes unravelled. In the end, Ottone is united with Teofane. Gismonda and Adelberto must abase themselves. In a sudden change, Matilda consents to marry Adelberto.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
 
G.F.Handel - "Tanti affanni"- The opera "Ottone"
 
Counter Tenor Alon Harari Sings Ottone's Aria "Tanti Affanni" from The opera "Ottone" By G.F.Handel
Recorded in Tel-Aviv, July 2012
Text:
Tanti affanni ho nel mio core
Che il dolore
A me toglie il respirar.
Se non trovo il mio tesoro
Per cui moro
Io non so più che sperar.

Übersetzung ins Deutsche:
Ich habe so viel Kummer im Herzen,
dass der Schmerz mir den Atem nimmt.

Wenn ich meine Liebste nicht finde,
für die ich sterbe,
dann weiß ich nicht, wie ich noch hoffen soll.

 
 
 
 
Handel - Ottone - Io son tradito; Tanti affanni (Lesne, Koopman; live 2010)
 
Recitativo:Io son tradito, aria:Tanti affanni, from Handel's opera Ottone, re di Germania, HWV 15 (Act 3. scene 2, 1723), performed by Gérard Lesne, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, dir. Ton Koopman. Concert given on 13 Feb. 2010, at Salle Olivier Messiaen of Radio France Maison.
(Picture taken from John Dugdale ''They have left us'', John Dugdale School of 19th C. Photography and Aesthetics.)
 
 
 
 
 
 

The banquet of Cleopatra by Giambattista Tiepolo  in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
 
 
"Giulio Cesare" - 1724
 
 
Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Caesar in Egypt, HWV 17), commonly known simply as Giulio Cesare, is an Italian opera (dramma per musica) in three acts composed for the Royal Academy of Music by George Frideric Handel in 1724. The libretto was written by Nicola Francesco Haym who used an earlier libretto by Giacomo Francesco Bussani, which had been set to music by Antonio Sartorio (1676).
 
 
Performance history

It was first performed at the King's Theatre in Haymarket, London on 20 February 1724. The opera was an immediate success. Handel revived it (with changes) in 1725, 1730, and 1732; it was also performed in Paris, Hamburg, and Brunswick. Like Handel's other works in the opera seria genre, Giulio Cesare fell into obscurity in the 19th century.
The roles of Cesare and Cleopatra, sung by the castrato Senesino and famous soprano Francesca Cuzzoni respectively, and which encompass eight arias and two recitatives accompagnati each, make full use of the vocal capabilities of the singers. Cornelia and Sesto are more static characters because they are completely taken by their primary emotions, she with pain because of her husband's death and constantly constrained to defend herself from the advances of Achilla and Tolomeo, and he consumed by vengeance for his father's death.
Cleopatra, on the other hand, is a multifaceted character: she uses at first her womanly wiles to seduce Cesare and gain the throne of Egypt, and then becomes totally engaged in the love affair with Cesare. She has great arias of immense dramatic intensity Se pietà di me non senti (II, 8) and Piangerò la sorte mia (III, 3). Her sensual character is described magnificently in the aria V'adoro, pupille, in which Cleopatra, in the guise of Lidia, appears to Cesare surrounded by the Muses of Parnassus (II, 2). This number calls for two orchestras: one is an ensemble scene with strings with sordino, oboe, tiorba, harp, bassoons and viola da gamba concertante.
Curio and Nireno do not get any arias in the original version, only singing recitatives, though they take part in the first and final choruses. However, Handel composed an aria for Nireno for a later revival in 1730.
In the 20th century, the opera was revived (in heavily altered form – reorchestrated and revamped with the male castrato roles transposed down for a baritone, tenor or bass) in Göttingen in 1922 by the Handel enthusiast Oskar Hagen. Hans Knappertsbusch and Karl Böhm both conducted it in Munich in 1923, and its first American performance took place at the Smith College of Music in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1927. The first British revival of a Handel opera was the staging of Giulio Cesare at the Scala Theatre in London in 1930, by the London Festival Opera Company, singing in English. The young Herbert von Karajan conducted a production in Ulm in 1933. It has subsequently proven to be by far the most popular of Handel's operas, with more than two hundred productions in many countries.
In modern productions, the title role, written for a castrato, is sung by a contralto, mezzo-soprano, or, more frequently in recent years, a countertenor. The roles of Tolomeo and Nireno are normally sung by countertenors. The role of Sesto, written for a soprano, is now usually sung by a mezzo-soprano.
The work is considered by many to be Handel's finest Italian opera, possibly even the best in the history of opera seria. It is admired for its superb vocal writing, its dramatic impact, and its deft orchestral arrangements.
Giulio Cesare is now regularly performed.



First printed edition (1724)

Overture
As typical of most Handel operas, but unlike most other Italian operas by other composers, Giulio Cesare opens with a French-type overture.

Act 1

After the overture, the entire cast, except Giulio Cesare, gathers on stage for the opening chorus. (Chorus: Viva, viva il nostro Alcide). Giulio Cesare and his victorious troops arrive on the banks of the River Nile after defeating Pompeo's forces. (Aria: Presti omai l'Egizia terra). Pompeo's second wife, Cornelia, begs for mercy for her husband's life. Cesare agrees, but on the condition that Pompeo must see him in person. Achilla, the leader of the Egyptian army, presents Cesare with a casket containing Pompeo's head. It is a token of support from Tolomeo, the co-ruler of Egypt (together with Cleopatra, his sister). Cornelia faints, and Cesare is furious about Tolomeo's cruelty. (Aria: Empio, dirò, tu sei). Cesare's assistant, Curio, offers to avenge Cornelia, hoping that she will fall for him and marry him. Cornelia rejects the offer in grief, saying that another death would not relieve her pain. (Aria: Priva, son d'ogni conforto). Sesto, son of Cornelia and Pompeo, swears to take revenge for his father's death. (Aria: Svegliatevi nel core). Cleopatra decides to use her charm to seduce Cesare. (Aria: Non disperar, chi sà?) Achilla brings the news to Tolomeo that Cesare was furious over the murder of Pompeo. Tolomeo swears to kill Cesare to protect his rule of the kingdom. (Aria: L'empio, sleale, indegno). Cleopatra (in disguise) goes to meet Cesare in his camp hoping that he will support her as the queen of Egypt. Cesare is amazed by her beauty. (Aria: Non è si vago e bello). Nireno notes that the seduction was successful. (Aria: Tutto può donna vezzosa). Meanwhile, Cornelia continues to mourn the loss of her husband. (Arioso: Nel tuo seno, amico sasso). Cornelia prepares to kill Tolomeo to avenge Pompeo's death, but is stopped by Sesto, who promises to do it instead. Cesare, Cornelia and Sesto go to the Egyptian palace to meet Tolomeo. (Aria: Cara speme, questo core). Cleopatra now believes that having turned Cesare, Cornelia and Sesto against Tolomeo successfully, the scales are tipped in her favour. (Aria: Tu la mia stella sei). Cesare meets Tolomeo, who offers him a room in the royal apartments, though Cesare tells Curio that he expects Tolomeo to betray him. (Aria: Va tacito e nascosto). Tolomeo is fascinated by Cornelia's beauty but has promised Achilla that he could have her. (Aria: Tu sei il cor di questo core). Sesto attempts to challenge Tolomeo, but is unsuccessful. When Cornelia rejects Achilla, he orders the soldiers to arrest Sesto. (Duet: Son nata a lagrimar).

Act 2

In Cleopatra's palace, while in disguise as "Lidia", she uses her charms to seduce Cesare. (Aria: V'adoro, pupille). She sings praises of Cupid's darts and Cesare is delighted. Cesare is smitten with Cleopatra, and Nireno tells Cesare that "Lidia" is waiting for him. (Aria: Se in fiorito ameno prato). In Tolomeo's palace, Cornelia laments her fate. (Arioso: Deh piangete, oh mesti lumi). Achilla pleads with Cornelia to accept him, but she rejects him. (Aria: Se a me non sei crudele) When he leaves, Tolomeo also tries to win her, but is also rejected. (Aria: Sì spietata, il tuo rigore). Thinking that there is no hope, Cornelia tries to take her own life, but is stopped by Sesto, who is escorted by Nireno. Nireno reveals the bad news that Tolomeo has ordered for Cornelia to be sent to his harem. However, Nireno also comes up with a plan to sneak Sesto into the harem together with Cornelia, so Sesto can kill Tolomeo when he is alone and unarmed. (Aria: Cessa omai di sospirare). Sesto enters the garden of the palace, wishing to fight Tolomeo for killing his father. (Aria: L'angue offeso mai riposa). Meanwhile, Cleopatra waits for Cesare to arrive in her palace. (Aria: Venere bella). Still smitten with her, Cesare arrives in Cleopatra's palace. However, Curio suddenly bursts in and warns Cesare that he has been betrayed, and enemies are approaching Cesare's chambers and chanting "Death to Cesare". Cleopatra reveals her identity and after hearing the enemies heading for them, asks Cesare to flee, but he decides to fight. (Aria: Al lampo dell'armi). (Chorus: Morà, Cesare morà). Cleopatra, having falling in love with Cesare, begs the gods to bless him. (Aria: Se pietà di me non senti). In Tolomeo's palace, Tolomeo prepares to enter his harem. (Arioso: Belle dee di questo core). As Tolomeo tries to seduce Cornelia, Sesto rushes in to kill Tolomeo, but is stopped by Achilla. Achilla announces that Cesare (in the attempt to run from soldiers) has jumped from the palace window and died. Achilla asks again for Cornelia's hand in marriage but is turned down by Tolomeo. Furious, Achilla leaves. Sesto feels devastated and attempts to kill himself but is prevented from doing so by his mother; he repeats his vow to kill Tolomeo. (Aria: L'aure che spira).

Act 3

Furious at Tolomeo for being ungrateful to him despite his loyalty, Achilla plans to defect to Cleopatra's side (Aria: Dal fulgor di questa spada), but Tolomeo stabs him before he does. As battle rings out between Tolomeo's and Cleopatra's armies, Tolomeo celebrates his apparent victory against Cleopatra (Aria: Domerò la tua fierezza). Cleopatra laments losing both the battle and Cesare (Aria: Piangerò la sorte mia). However, Cesare is not dead: he survived his leap and is roaming the desert in search of his troops (Aria: Aure, deh, per pietà). While looking for Tolomeo, Sesto finds the wounded, nearly dead Achilla, who hands Sesto a seal authorizing him to command his armies. Cesare appears and demands the seal, promising that he will either save both Cornelia and Cleopatra or die (Aria: Quel torrente, che cade dal monte). With Cesare alive and Achilla dead, Sesto's spirits lift, and he vows to fight on (Aria: La giustizia ha già sull'arco). Cesare continues on to Cleopatra's camp, where a lamenting Cleopatra is overjoyed to see him. (Aria: Da tempeste il legno infranto).
In the palace, Sesto finds Tolomeo trying to rape Cornelia and kills him. Having successfully avenged Pompeo, Cornelia and Sesto celebrate Tolomeo's death. (Aria: Non ha più che temere). The victorious Cesare and Cleopatra enter Alexandria, and Cesare proclaims Cleopatra to be queen of Egypt and promises his support to her and her country. They declare their love for each other (Duet: Caro! Bella! Più amabile beltà). Cesare then proclaims Egypt's liberation from tyranny, and wishes for the glory of Rome to spread far and wide. For the final chorus, the entire cast (including the dead Achilla and Tolomeo) gathers on stage to celebrate the power of love and the triumph of good over evil (Chorus: Ritorni omai nel nostro core).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
 
Handel - "Giulio Cesare"
 
Andreas Scholl, Giulio Cesare
Cecilia Bartoli, Cleopatra
Anne Sofie von Otter, Cornelia
Philippe Jaroussky, Sesto
Christophe Dumaux, Tolomeo
Jochen Kowalski, Nireno
Ruben Drole, Achilla
Peter Kálmán, Curio
Il Giardino Armonico (Giovanni Antonini)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rodelinda - 1725
 
 
 
 
Rodelinda, regina de' Longobardi (HWV 19) is an opera seria in three acts composed for the first Royal Academy of Music by George Frideric Handel. The libretto is by Nicola Francesco Haym, and was based on an earlier libretto by Antonio Salvi set by Giacomo Antonio Perti in 1710. Salvi's libretto originated with Pierre Corneille's play Pertharite, roi des Lombards (1653), based on the history of Perctarit, king of the Lombards in the 7th century.

Performance history

Rodelinda was first performed at the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket, London, on 13 February 1725. It was produced with the same singers as Tamerlano. There were 14 performances; it was repeated on 18 December 1725, and again on 4 May 1731, a further 16 performances in all, each revival including changes and fresh material. In 1735 and 1736 it was also performed, with only modest success, in Hamburg at the Oper am Gänsemarkt. The first modern production - in heavily altered form - was in Göttingen on 26 June 1920 where it was the first of a series of modern Handel opera revivals produced by the Handel enthusiast Oskar Hagen. By 1927 Hagen's version had been performed 136 times in Germany. The opera reached the US in 1931 and was revived in London in 1939. A further notable London revival by the Handel Opera Society, in English and using a cut text, including both Joan Sutherland and Janet Baker in the cast, conducted by Charles Farncombe, was performed in June 1959. Recordings of the BBC relay survive. The Welsh National Opera production of 1981 was probably the work's first UK production to full professional standards since the eighteenth century (Sadie, S. Grove Book of Opera) The work was recorded for the Westminster label using modern instruments, but otherwise respecting Handel's orchestral practices, by a cast including Maureen Forrester and Teresa Stich-Randall under Brian Priestman in Vienna in 1964.
A UK production was presented at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1998. Directed by Jean-Marie Villégier and conducted by William Christie, this highly-praised production featured Anna Caterina Antonacci in the title role and Andreas Scholl as Bertarido.
The first performance of Rodelinda at the Metropolitan Opera was on 2 December 2004 in a production by Stephen Wadsworth and conducted by Harry Bicket. It featured Renée Fleming in the title role, David Daniels as Bertarido, Kobie van Rensburg as Grimoaldo, Stephanie Blythe as Eduige, John Relyea as Garibaldo and Bejun Mehta as Unulfo. It received nine performances that season and five others in May 2006, this time with Andreas Scholl as Bertarido, Christophe Dumaux as Unulfo, and conducted by Patrick Summers. The production was revived during the 2011 season, again with Fleming, Blythe, and Scholl.

Roles

It is striking that by different tones of voice, the singers clearly distinguish between "good" and "evil". The voices of Grimoaldo (tenor), Garibaldo (bass), and Eduige (alto) are deep, which seems more threatening. The voices of Bertarido (alto), Unulfo (alto) and Rodelinda (soprano) are rather high.

Synopsis

Most scenes take place in the palace, but two scenes are set in the cemetery, with the final scene taking place outdoors. The action extends over one day, the final scene taking place shortly after sunrise. In the original source, Perctarit (Bertarido in the opera) flees, and his wife, Rodelinde (Rodelinda), along with their son Cunincpert (Flavio), are sent into exile; in the opera, Rodelinda remains in Milan (along with Flavio) and becomes the central figure. The actions around her must therefore all be regarded as fictitious.

Prologue

Grimoaldo has defeated Bertarido in battle and usurped his throne. Bertarido has fled, and it is believed that he has died in exile, but he sends word to his friend Unulfo that he is alive and in hiding near the palace. Grimoaldo is betrothed to Bertarido's sister Eduige, and though she loves him and he returns her affection, at least at first, she keeps putting off the wedding. Rodelinda and her son, Flavio, are being kept in the palace by Grimoaldo, who has fallen in love with her.

Act 1

Alone, Rodelinda mourns the loss of her husband. Grimoaldo enters and proposes marriage to her; he offers her the throne back, and confesses his love for her. She angrily rejects him. Eduige tells Grimoaldo that he has become treacherous now that he is king; he answers that he is treacherous for the sake of justice, referring to the fact that she so often refused to marry him and now he, at Garibaldo's instigation, is rejecting her. With Grimoaldo gone, the scheming Garibaldo, who has previously professed to love Eduige, offers to bring her Grimoaldo's head. She declines, but swears that she will be revenged eventually. Alone, Garibaldo details his plan to use Eduige to help him take the throne for himself.
Meanwhile, Bertarido reads the inscription on his own memorial. Along with Unulfo, he watches from hiding as Rodelinda and Flavio lay flowers at the memorial. Garibaldo enters and offers Rodelinda an ultimatum; either she agrees to marry Grimoaldo or Flavio will be killed. Rodelinda agrees, but warns Garibaldo that she will use his head as a step to the throne. Bertarido, still watching, takes Rodelinda's decision as an act of infidelity. Grimoaldo tells Garibaldo not to worry about Rodelinda's threat; under the king's protection, what does he have to fear? Unulfo, meanwhile, tries to comfort Bertarido, but Bertarido is unconvinced.

Act 2

Garibaldo, as part of his plan to take the throne, tells Eduige that it appears she has lost her chance to become queen, and encourages her to take revenge on Grimoaldo. Eduige then turns her bitterness on Rodelinda, pointing out Rodelinda's sudden decision to betray her husband's memory and marry his usurper. Rodelinda reminds Eduige of who's queen. Eduige again vows vengeance on Grimoaldo, though it is clear she still loves him. Eduige departs and Grimoaldo enters, asking Rodelinda if it is true that she's agreed to marry him. She assures him that it is true, but that she has one condition: Grimoaldo must first kill Flavio in front of her. Grimoaldo, horrified, refuses. Once Rodelinda departs, Garibaldo encourages Grimoaldo to carry out the murder and take Rodelinda as his wife, but Grimoaldo again refuses. He says that Rodelinda's act of courage and determination has made him love her all the more, though he has lost all hope of ever winning her over. Unulfo asks Garibaldo how he could give a king such appalling advice, and Garibaldo expounds his Macchiavellian perspective on the use of power. Bertarido, meanwhile, has approached the palace grounds in disguise, where Eduige recognizes him. She agrees to tell Rodelinda that her husband is still alive. Rodelinda and Bertarido meet in secret, but are discovered by an outraged Grimoaldo. He doesn't recognize Bertarido, but vows to kill him anyway, whether he be Rodelinda's real husband or just her lover. The spouses, before being separated again, bid each other a last farewell.

Act 3

Unulfo and Eduige make a plan to release Bertarido from prison; they'll smuggle him a weapon and the key to the secret passage that runs under the palace. Grimoaldo, meanwhile, is having a crisis of conscience over the impending execution. Bertarido, in his cell, receives his package. Unulfo, who is allowed access to the prison in an official capacity, comes to release Bertarido. Bertarido, however, can't recognize Unulfo in the darkness, and mistakenly wounds him with the sword. Unulfo shrugs the injury off, and the two leave. Eduige and Rodelinda, meanwhile, have come to visit Bertarido. Finding the cell empty and blood on the floor, they despair of his life. Grimoaldo is still struggling with conscience and flees to the palace garden, hoping to find a peaceful spot where he can finally fall asleep; even shepherds, he laments, can find rest under trees and bushes, but he, a king, can find no rest anywhere. He finally falls asleep, but Garibaldo finds him and decides to take advantage of the situation. He is about to kill Grimoaldo with his own sword when Bertarido enters and kills Garibaldo. Grimoaldo, however, he spares. Grimoaldo gladly gives up all claim to the throne and turns to Eduige, telling her that they shall wed and rule together in his own duchy. Reunited at last, the family rejoices.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
 
Handel - Rodelinda - Curtis
 
 
 
 
 
 
Renée Fleming sings aria of Rodelinda - Ombre piante from I act of Georg Haendel's Rodelinda
 
 
 
 
 
MET OPERA LIVE: Handel's Rodelinda
 
Renée Fleming sings "Mio Caro Bene," Rodelinda's final aria from Handel's Rodelinda. Also featured are Moritz Linn as Flavio and Andreas Scholl as Bertarido
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alcina - 1728
 
 

Alcina meets Ruggiero
painting by Niccolò dell'Abbate, c. 1550
 
 
Alcina (HWV 34) is an opera seria by George Frideric Handel. Handel used the libretto of L'isola di Alcina, an opera that was set in 1728 in Rome by Riccardo Broschi, which he acquired the year after, during his travels in Italy. The plot was originally taken from – but partly altered for better conformity – Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso (like those of the Handel operas Orlando and Ariodante), an epic poem set in the time of Charlemagne's wars against Islam. The opera contains several musical sequences with opportunity for dance: these were composed for dancer Marie Sallé.
 
Performance history

Alcina was composed for Handel's first season at the Covent Garden Theatre, London. It premiered on April 16, 1735. Like the composer's other works in the opera seria genre, it fell into obscurity; after a revival in Brunswick in 1738 it was not performed again until a production in Leipzig in 1928.
The Australian soprano Joan Sutherland sang the role in a production by Franco Zeffirelli in which she made her debut at La Fenice in February 1960 and at the Dallas Opera in November of that year. She performed in the same production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1962. It was performed at Ledlanet, Scotland, in 1969. A major production was that of Robert Carsen, staged originally for the Opera de Paris in 1999 and repeated at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which featured Renée Fleming in the title role.

 
 
Synopsis

Prologue
The background of the opera comes from the poem Orlando Furioso. The heroic knight Ruggiero is destined to a short but glorious life, and a benevolent magician is always whisking him away from the arms of his fiancée, Bradamante. Bradamante is not the type to put up with the constant disappearance of her lover, and she spends vast portions of the poem in full armor chasing after him. Just before the opera begins she has rescued him from an enchanted castle, only to have her flying horse (a hippogriff) take a fancy to Ruggiero and fly off with him. Ruggiero and the hippogriff land on an island in the middle of the ocean. As the hippogriff begins to eat the leaves of a myrtle bush, Ruggiero is startled to hear the bush begin to speak. The bush reveals that it was once a living soul named Sir Astolfo, and the island belongs to the sister sorceresses Alcina and Morgana. The beautiful Alcina seduces every knight that lands on her isle, but soon tires of her lovers and changes them into stones, animals, plants, or anything that strikes her fancy. Despite Astolfo's warning, Ruggiero strides off to meet this sorceress— and falls under her spell.

Act 1

Bradamante, again searching for her lover, arrives on Alcina's island with Ruggiero's former tutor, Melisso. Dressed in armor, Bradamante looks like a young man and goes by the name of her own brother, Ricciardo. She and Melisso possess a magic ring which enables the wearer to see through illusion, which they plan to use to break Alcina's spells and release her captives.
The first person they meet is the sorceress Morgana. Barely human and with no understanding of true love, she immediately abandons her own lover Oronte for the handsome 'Ricciardo.' Morgana conveys the visitors to Alcina's court, where Bradamante is dismayed to discover that Ruggiero is besotted with Alcina and in a state of complete amnesia about his previous life. Also at Alcina's court is a boy, Oberto, who is looking for his father, Astolfo, who was last seen heading toward this island. Bradamante guesses that Astolfo is now transformed into something, but she holds her peace and concerns herself with Ruggiero. Bradamante and Melisso rebuke Ruggiero for his desertion, but he can't think of anything except Alcina.
Meanwhile, Oronte discovers that Morgana has fallen in love with 'Ricciardo,' and challenges 'him' to a duel. Morgana stops the fight, but Oronte is in a foul mood and takes it out on Ruggiero. He tells the young man exactly how Alcina treats her former lovers and adds that, as far as he can tell, Alcina has fallen in love with the newcomer, Ricciardo. Ruggiero is horrified and overwhelms Alcina with his jealous fury. Things get even worse when 'Ricciardo' enters and pretends to admire Alcina. Alcina calms Ruggiero, but Bradamante is so upset at seeing her fiancé wooed before her very eyes that she reveals her true identity to Ruggiero. Melisso hastily contradicts her and Ruggiero becomes very confused.


Alcina tells Morgana that she plans to turn Ricciardo into an animal, just to show Ruggiero how much she really loves him. Morgana begs Ricciardo to escape the island and Alcina's clutches, but 'he' says he'd rather stay, as he loves another. Morgana believes that this other person is herself, and the act ends with her triumphant aria "Tornami a vagheggiar."

Act 2

Melisso recalls Ruggiero to reason and duty by letting him wear the magic ring: under its influence, Ruggiero sees the island as it really is—a desert, peopled with monsters. Appalled, he realizes he must leave, and sings the famous aria "Verdi prati" ("Green meadows") where he admits that even though he knows the island and Alcina are mere illusion, their beauty will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Melisso warns Ruggiero that he can’t just leave; Alcina still wields immense power, and he should cover his escape by telling her that he wishes to go hunting. Ruggiero agrees, but, thoroughly bewildered by the magic and illusion surrounding him, he refuses to believe his eyes when he at last sees Bradamante as herself, believing that she may be another of Alcina's illusions. Bradamante is in despair, as is Alcina. Convinced of Ruggiero's indifference, she enters to turn Ricciardo into an animal, and Ruggiero has to pull himself together quickly and convince the sorceress that he doesn’t need any proof of her love. It is at this point that the audience realises that Alcina genuinely loves Ruggiero; from now until the end of the opera, she is depicted sympathetically.
Oronte realizes that Ricciardo, Melisso and Ruggiero are in some sort of alliance, and Morgana and Alcina realise they are being deceived. But it is too late: Alcina's powers depend on illusion and, as true love enters her life, her magic powers slip away. As the act ends, Alcina tries to call up evil spirits to stop Ruggiero from leaving her, but her magic fails her.

Act 3

After this the opera finishes swiftly. Morgana and Oronte try to rebuild their relationship; she returns to him and he rebuffs her but (once she is offstage) admits he loves her still. Ruggiero returns to his proper heroic status and sings an aria accompanied by high horns; Oberto is introduced to a lion, to whom he feels strangely attached, and Alcina sings a desolate aria in which she longs for oblivion.
Bradamante and Ruggiero decide that they need to destroy the source of Alcina's magic, usually represented as an urn. Alcina pleads with them, but Ruggiero is deaf to her appeals and smashes the urn. As he does so, everything is both ruined and restored. Alcina's magic palace crumbles to dust and she and Morgana sink into the ground, but Alcina's lovers are returned to their proper selves. The lion turns into Oberto’s father, Astolfo, and other people stumble on, “I was a rock,” says one, “I a tree” says another, and “I a wave in the ocean…” All the humans sing of their relief and joy, and Alcina is forgotten.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
Handel - Alcina
 
Staatsorchester Stuttgart, 1999

Conductor: Alan Hacker
Stage Directors: Jossi Wieler, Sergio Morabito

Catherine Nagletstad - Alcina
Alice Coote - Ruggiero
Helene Schneiderman - Bradamante
Catriona Smith - Morgana
Rolf Romei - Oronte
Michael Ebbecke - Melisso
Claudia Mahnke - Oberto
Heinz Gerger - Astolfo

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Concerti Grossi, Op. 3 - 1734
 
 
The Concerti Grossi, Op. 3, HWV 312–317, are six concerti grossi by George Frideric Handel compiled into a set and published by John Walsh in 1734. Musicologists now agree that Handel had no initial knowledge of the publishing. Instead, Walsh, seeking to take advantage of the commercial success of Corelli's Opus 6 Concerti Grossi, simply combined several of Handel's already existing works and grouped them into six "concertos".

Musical Structure

The structure Op. 3 is somewhat unusual. Only one of the six concertos contains the usual four movements, while the other four having anything between two and five. Only occasionally are the instrumental forces set in the traditional concerto grosso manner, i.e. a tutti group and a contrasting, soloistic concertino group. However, the concertos are filled with virtuoso solo passages for both the string and the woodwinds, thus maintaining the form of the concerto grosso despite the lack of traditional contrasting forces.

Concerto Grosso in B flat major, Op. 3, No. 1 - HWV 312

The first and probably earliest concerto of the set is scored for two recorders, two oboes, two bassoons, strings (with divided viola), and continuo.
I. Allegro
II. Largo
III. Allegro

Concerto Grosso in B flat major, Op. 3, No. 2 - HWV 313

The second concerto contains three movements in B flat major and one (the last) in G minor. The opening movement of the five-movement concerto bears a close relationship with Handel's Brockes Passion of 1716. Unusually, two dance movements, a minuet, and a gavotte complete the concerto. The concerto is scored for two oboes, one bassoon, strings, and continuo.
I. Vivace
II. Largo
III. Allegro
IV. Moderato
V. Allegro

Concerto Grosso in G major, Op. 3, No. 3 - HWV 314

The third Concerto is again in three movements (the opening Largo is too brief to be classified as a movement). There is little doubt that this concerto was compiled by Walsh from a number of pieces by Handel. The concerto is scored for one oboe (can also be replaced by flute), one bassoon, strings, and continuo.
I. Largo, e staccato - allegro
II. Andante
III. Allegro

Concerto Grosso in F major, Op. 3, No. 4 - HWV 315

The fourth concerto is one of the two pieces in the opus that follow a four movement framework. Although the layout of this work does not reflect the typical concerto grosso as the music was pulled straight from the overture to the 1715 opera Amadigi di Gaula, the piece uniquely displays many aspects of Handel's concerto grosso style. The piece is scored for two oboes, one bassoon, strings, and continuo.
I. Largo
II. Andante
III. Allegro
IV. Allegro
Walsh also published a 'No. 4b' concerto erroneously under the name of Handel but it was withdrawn a few months later, possibly at Handel's request.

Concerto Grosso in D minor, Op. 3, No. 5 - HWV 316

Despite lack of division into tutti and concertino and the addition of an extra allegro movement at the very end, the fifth concerto follows the traditional Italian model closest of all the Op. 3 works. Walsh only published the first two movements but because it had already been known in its entirety, so it is probable that Handel requested it be published in full. The piece is scored for two oboes (originally one), one bassoon, strings, and continuo.
I. Largo
II. Fuga, allegro
III. Adagio
IV. Allegro, ma non troppo
V. Allegro

Concerto Grosso in D major, Op. 3 No. 6 - HWV 317

The sixth and final concerto has just two movements, the Vivace, whose music is extracted from the 1723 opera Ottone, and the Allegro, which is also Handel's first published organ concerto, is taken from the overture to the 1712 opera Il pastor fido. The piece is scored for two oboes, one bassoon, strings, and continuo.
I. Vivace
II. Allegro

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
G. F. Handel - Concerti Grossi, Op. 3 (HWV 312-217)
 
Concerto Grosso No. 1 in B flat major (HWV 312)
I. Allegro
II. Largo
III. Allegro

Concerto Grosso No. 2 in B flat major (HWV 313)
I. Vivace
II. Largo
III. Allegro
IV. Moderato
V. Allegro

Concerto Grosso No. 3 in G major (HWV 314)
I. Largo e staccato - allegro
II. Andante
III. Allegro

Concerto Grosso No. 4 in F major (HWV 315)
I. Largo
II. Andante
III. Allegro
IV. Allegro

Concerto Grosso No. 5 in D minor (HWV 316)
I. Largo
II. Fuga, allegro
III. Adagio
IV. Allegro, ma non troppo
V. Allegro

Concerto Grosso No. 6 in D major (HWV 317)
I. Vivace
II. Allegro

Performed by English Baroque Soloists
dir. Sir John Eliot Gardiner

 
 
 
 
 
 
Handel - Concerto grosso op.3
 
Concerto grosso op.3, No.1 in B flat major, HWV 312
Concerto grosso op.3 No.2 in B flat major, HWV 313
Concerto grosso op.3 No.3 in G major, HWV 314
Concerto grosso op.3 No.4 in F major, HWV 315
Concerto grosso op.3 No.5 in D minor, HWV 316
Concerto grosso op.3 No.6 in D major, HWV 317

Thurston Dart, harpsichord
Andrew Davis, organ
George Malcolm, organ and harpsichord
Stanislav Heller, organ (HWV 317)
Roger Lord, Michael Dobson, oboes
Richard Adeney, Richard Taylor, flutes
Academy of St Martin in the Fields
Conductor - Sir Neville Marriner

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Alexander's Feast" - 1736
 

Alexander's Feast (HWV 75) is an ode with music by Handel George Frederick set to a libretto by Newburgh Hamilton.

 
Hamilton adapted his libretto from John Dryden's ode Alexander's Feast, or the Power of Music (1697) which had been written to celebrate Saint Cecilia's Day. Jeremiah Clarke (whose score is now lost) set the original ode to music.
Handel composed the music in January 1736, and the work received its premiere at the Covent Garden Theatre, London, on 19 February 1736. In its original form it contained three concertos: a concerto in B flat major in 3 movements for "Harp, Lute, Lyrichord and other Instruments" HWV 294 for performance after the recitative Timotheus, plac'd on high in Part I; a concerto grosso in C major in 4 movements for oboes, bassoon and strings, now known as the "Concerto in Alexander's Feast" HWV 318, performed between Parts I and II; and an organ concerto HWV 289 in G minor and major in 4 movements for chamber organ, oboes, bassoon and strings performed after the chorus Let old Timotheus yield the prize in Part II.
  The organ concerto and harp concerto were published in 1738 by John Walsh as the first and last of the Handel organ concertos Op.4. Handel revised the music for performances in 1739, 1742 and 1751. Donald Burrows has discussed Handel's revisions to the score.

The work describes a banquet held by Alexander the Great and his mistress Thaïs in the captured Persian city of Persepolis, during which the musician Timotheus sings and plays his lyre, arousing various moods in Alexander until he is finally incited to burn the city down in revenge for his dead Greek soldiers.

The piece was a great success and it encouraged Handel to make the transition from writing Italian operas to English choral works. The soloists at the premiere were the sopranos Anna Maria Strada and Cecilia Young, the tenor John Beard, and a bass called Erard (first name unknown).
 
 

Structure of the work

Part one:
Overture
Recitative (tenor): 'Twas at the royal feast
Aria and chorus: Happy, happy pair
Recitative: Timotheus plac'd on high
Harp Concerto, Opus 4, Number 6 in B Flat
Recitative: The song began from Jove
Chorus: The list'ning crowd
Aria (soprano): With ravish'd ears
Recitative: The praise of Bacchus
Aria and chorus: Bacchus ever fair and young
Recitative: Sooth'd with the sound
Recitative: He chose a mournful muse
Aria (soprano): He sung Darius, great and good
Recitative: With downcast looks
Chorus: Behold Darius great and good
Recitative: The mighty master smil'd
Arioso: Softly sweet in Lydian measures
Aria: War, he sung, is toil and trouble
Chorus: The many rend the skies with loud applause
Aria: The prince, unable to conceal his pain
Chorus: The many rend the skies with loud applause

Part two:
Recitative and chorus: Now strike the golden lyre again
Aria (bass): Revenge, Timotheus cries
Recitative: Give vengeance the due
Aria: The princes applaud with a furious joy
Aria and chorus: Thais led the way
Recitative: Thus long ago
Chorus: At last divine Cecilia came
Recitative: Let old Timotheus yield the prize
Chorus: Let old Timotheus yield the prize
Organ concerto, Opus 4 Number 1
Chorus: Your voices tune

 
 
Händel - Alexander's Feast
 
Radio Kamer Filharmonie
Groot Omroepkoor
Kenneth Montgomery [dirigent]
Yulia Van Doren [sopraan]
Paula Murrihy [mezzosopraan]
Ed Lyon [tenor]
Matthew Brook [bas]
Gwyneth Wentink [harp]
Pieter-Jan Belder [orgel]
 
 
 
 
 
 
HANDEL - Concerto grosso in C major, HWV 318 'Alexander's Feast'
 
Concerto grosso in C major, HWV 318 'Alexander's Feast'

Thurston Dart, harpsichord
Philomusica of London
Conductor -- Granville Jones

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Berenice" - 1737
 
 
Berenice (HWV 38) is an opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel to an Italian libretto, written in Italy in 1709 and originally entitled Berenice, regina d'Egitto (Berenice, Queen of Egypt), by Antonio Salvi.
It was first performed at the Covent Garden Theatre in London on 18 May 1737. It was not successful and only given four times.
It is based upon the life of Cleopatra Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy IX (the main character in Handel's opera Tolomeo) and is set in around 81 BC.
 
 
Handel: "Berenice" (Il Complesso Barocco) I
 
 
 
 
Handel: "Berenice" (Il Complesso Barocco) 2
 
 
 
 
Handel: "Berenice" (Il Complesso Barocco) 3
 
 
 
 
Handel's - Minuet from Berenice
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
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