Il pastor fido (Handel)
Il pastor fido is an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel. It was set to a libretto by Giacomo Rossi based on the famed and familiar pastoral poem of the same name by Giovanni Battista Guarini, it had its first performance on 22 November 1712 at the Queen's Theatre in the London. It was first performed on 22 November of the same year under the composer; the opera opened to a hostile reception due to disappointment after the success of Rinaldo: one diarist noted critically that "the scene represented only the Country of Arcadia. The roles of Mirtillo and Silvio were sung by the castratos Valeriano Pellegrini and Valentino Urbani; the overture is in six movements and is long for its time: it is thought that it may have been composed as an unrelated orchestral suite. The revival of the spring of 1734, in which Giovanni Carestini took the role of Mirtillo, was far more successful, but Handel altered the music: only seven of the original arias remained, those cut were replaced by arias from Handel's cantatas or earlier operas.
This production enjoyed a run of 13 performances. In the winter of 1734 Il pastor fido was revived again: Carestini remained as Mirtillo and the English tenor John Beard took the role of Silvio. A newly composed prologue, was added to the opera for this run of performances; the prologue consisted of solo arias, choral movements, orchestral writing for dance: the danced role of Terpsichore was performed by Marie Sallé, whose dance company had been engaged by Covent Garden manager John Rich. As with all Baroque opera seria, Il Pastor Fido went unperformed for many years, but with the revival of interest in Baroque music and informed musical performance since the 1960s,Il Pastor Fido, like all Handel operas, receives performances at festivals and opera houses today. Among other performances, the work was performed as part of the London Handel Festival in 2012. Scene: Arcadia,in the Greek countryside, in legendary antiquity. Diana, virgin huntress goddess, has become displeased with Arcadia and has let it be known that only through the marriage of a couple descended from heavenly ancestors, one of whom will be "a faithful shepherd", will her wrath be appeased.
The couple who are believed to fit this description are the hunter Silvio, but he has no interest in love, being dedicated to Diana and only interested in hunting, the shepherdess Amarilli, who however is in love with the shepherd Mirtillo, whose ancestry is unknown. The shepherd Mirtillo is unhappy due to his great love for Amarilli, going to have to marry the hunter Silvio in order to please the goddess Diana. Amarilli is unhappy about her proposed marriage as she has fallen in love with Mirtillo, whose family background is not known, although she has not told him she loves him. Mirtillo overhears her lamenting her love for him and woos her, but she rejects him as her duty is to marry Silvio for the sake of the common welfare. Mirtillo is in such despair at this; the shepherdess Eurilla is in love with Mirtillo, prevents him from killing himself, offers to try to win Amarilli for him. Eurilla is only interested in winning Mirtillo for herself. Silvio, the hunter, has no interest in girls or getting married at all, he wishes to remain chaste like his patroness the goddess Diana.
Yet another shepherdess, Dorinda, is smitten with Silvio but he rejects her love, to her sorrow. In a rocky grove, Mirtillo sings himself to sleep with a song in praise of his beloved Amarilli; as he slumbers, Eurilla enters with a garland of flowers with a note "From someone who adores you and is waiting for you there" and places it on his body. When he awakes, he thinks. Eurilla tells Amarilli that Mirtillo has received a love token and an invitation to an amorous tryst from another girl, which makes her jealous. Meanwhile, Dorinda continues to pester Silvio with her protestations of affection, he continues to make it clear he is not interested. Eurilla tells Mirtillo that his love is on her way and he should go into the nearby cave and wait for her, which he does. Eurilla fetches Amarilli and tells her she can watch what Mirtillo is up to with the other girl from inside the same cave, leads Amarilli into it too. Now that the two are in the cave together, Eurilla will go and tell the law authorities to arrest them for illicit sex, for which Arcadian law prescribes death for the female partner, Amarilli will be executed, Eurilla will have Mirtillo for her own.
In the sacred grove outside the temple of Diana, the lovesick Dorinda hears her Silvio coming with his fellow hunters and hides in the bushes to watch him. Silvio, seeing movement in the growth, thinks it is a deer and spears it, but he is sorry to find it is Dorinda, not dead but wounded. Silvio discovers he is overwhelmed with love with her after all and they vow to be one. Eurilla's scheme has been successful - Amarilli has been condemned to die for unchastity. Mirtillo begs to be allowed to die in her place but he is refused. Amarilli is being led to her execution when the chief priest of Diana enters with a new decree from the goddess. Mirtillo is the "faithful shepherd" of the prophecy. Human sacrifice is abolished, a double wedding is announced and Amarilli as well as Silvio and Dorinda. Eurilla asks for and receives forgiveness, the curse is lifted from the land, all rejoice; the German-born Handel, after spending some of his early career composing operas and other pieces in Italy, settled in London, where in 1711 he had brought Italian opera for the first time with his opera Rinaldo.
A tremendous success
Agrippina is an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel with a libretto by Cardinal Vincenzo Grimani. Composed for the 1709–10 Venice Carnevale season, the opera tells the story of Agrippina, the mother of Nero, as she plots the downfall of the Roman Emperor Claudius and the installation of her son as emperor. Grimani's libretto, considered one of the best that Handel set, is an "anti-heroic satirical comedy", full of topical political allusions; some analysts believe that it reflects Grimani's political and diplomatic rivalry with Pope Clement XI. Handel composed Agrippina at the end of a three-year sojourn in Italy, it premiered in Venice at the Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo on 26 December 1709. It proved an unprecedented series of 27 consecutive performances followed. Observers praised the quality of the music—much of which, in keeping with the contemporary custom, had been borrowed and adapted from other works, including the works of other composers. Despite the evident public enthusiasm for the work, Handel did not promote further stagings.
There were occasional productions in the years following its premiere but Handel's operas, including Agrippina, fell out of fashion in the mid-18th century. In the 20th century Agrippina premiered in Britain and America. Performances of the work have become more common, with innovative stagings at the New York City Opera and the London Coliseum in 2007. Modern critical opinion is that Agrippina is Handel's first operatic masterpiece, full of freshness and musical invention which have made it one of the most popular operas of the ongoing Handel revival. Handel's earliest opera compositions, in the German style, date from his Hamburg years, 1704–06, under the influence of Johann Mattheson. In 1706 he traveled to Italy, he first settled in Florence where he was introduced to Domenico Scarlatti. His first opera composed in Italy, though still reflecting the influence of Hamburg and Mattheson, was Rodrigo, was presented there, it was not successful, but was part of Handel's process of learning to compose opera in the Italian style and to set Italian words to music.
Handel spent time in Rome, where the performance of opera was forbidden by Papal decree, in Naples. He applied himself to the composition of oratorios. Works from this period include Dixit Dominus and the dramatic cantata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, written in Naples. While in Rome through Alessandro Scarlatti, Handel had become acquainted with Cardinal Grimani, a distinguished diplomat who wrote libretti in his spare time, acted as an unofficial theatrical agent for the Italian royal courts, he was evidently asked him to set his new libretto, Agrippina. Grimani intended to present this opera at his family-owned theatre in Venice, the Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo, as part of the 1709–10 Carnevale season. Grimani's libretto is based on much the same story used as the subject of Monteverdi's 1642 opera L'incoronazione di Poppea. Grimani's libretto centres on Agrippina, a character who does not appear in Monteverdi's darker version. Grimani avoids the "moralizing" tone of the opera seria libretti written by such acknowledged masters as Metastasio and Zeno.
According to the critic Donald Jay Grout, "irony and intrigue pervade the humorous escapades of its well-defined characters." All the main characters, with the sole exception of Claudius's servant Lesbus, are historical, the broad outline of the libretto draws upon Tacitus's Annals and Suetonius' Life of Claudius. It has been suggested that the comical, amatory character of the Emperor Claudius is a caricature of Pope Clement XI, to whom Grimani was politically opposed. Certain aspects of this conflict are reflected in the plot: the rivalry between Nero and Otho mirror aspects of the debate over the War of the Spanish Succession, in which Grimani supported the Habsburgs and Pope Clement XI France and Spain. According to John Mainwaring, Handel's first biographer, Agrippina was composed in the three weeks following Handel's arrival in Venice in November 1709, a theory supported by the autograph manuscript's Venetian paper. In composing the opera Handel borrowed extensively from his earlier oratorios and cantatas, from other composers including Reinhard Keiser, Arcangelo Corelli and Jean-Baptiste Lully.
This practice of adapting and borrowing was common at the time but is carried to greater lengths in Agrippina than in all of Handel's other major dramatic works. The overture, a French-style two-part work with a "thrilling" allegro, all but five of the vocal numbers, are based on earlier works, though subject in many cases to significant adaptation and reworking. Examples of recycled material include Pallas's "Col raggio placido", based on Lucifer's aria from La resurrezione, "O voi dell'Erebo", itself adapted from Reinhard Keiser's 1705 opera Octavia. Agrippina's aria "Non ho cor che per amarti" was taken entirely unchanged, from "Se la morte non vorrà" in Handel's earlier dramatic cantata Qual ti reveggio, oh Dio; some of Agrippina's music was used by Handel in his London operas Rinaldo and the 1732 version of Acis and Galatea
Serse is an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel. It was first performed in London on 15 April 1738; the Italian libretto was adapted by an unknown hand from that by Silvio Stampiglia for an earlier opera of the same name by Giovanni Bononcini in 1694. Stampiglia's libretto was itself based on one by Nicolò Minato, set by Francesco Cavalli in 1654; the opera is set in Persia about 470 BC and is loosely based upon Xerxes I of Persia. Serse sung by a soprano castrato, is now performed by a mezzo-soprano or counter-tenor; the opening aria, "Ombra mai fu", sung by Xerxes to a plane tree, is set to one of Handel's best-known melodies, is known as Handel's "Largo". In late 1737 the King's Theatre, commissioned Handel to write two new operas; the first, was premiered on 3 January 1738. By this time, Handel had begun work on Serse; the first act was composed between 26 December 1737 and 9 January 1738, the second was ready by 25 January, the third by 6 February, Handel put the finishing touches to the score on 14 February.
Serse was first performed at the King's Theatre, Haymarket on 15 April 1738. The first production was a complete failure; the audience may have been confused by the innovative nature of the work. Unlike his other operas for London, Handel included comic elements in Serse. Although this had been typical for 17th-century Venetian works such as Cavalli's original setting of the libretto, by the 1730s an opera seria was expected to be wholly serious, with no mixing of the genres of tragedy and comedy or high and low class characters; the musicologist Charles Burney took Serse to task for violating decorum in this way, writing: "I have not been able to discover the author of the words of this drama: but it is one of the worst Handel set to Music: for besides feeble writing, there is a mixture of tragic-comedy and buffoonery in it, which Apostolo Zeno and Metastasio had banished from serious opera." Another unusual aspect of Serse is the number of short, one-part arias, when a typical opera seria of Handel's time was wholly made up of long, three-part da capo arias.
This feature struck the Earl of Shaftesbury, who attended the premiere and admired the opera. He noted "the airs too, for brevity's sake, as the opera would otherwise be too long fall without any recitativ' intervening from one into another that tis difficult to understand till it comes by frequent hearing to be well known. My own judgment is that it is a capital opera notwithstanding tis called a ballad one." It is that Handel had been influenced, both as regards the comedy and the absence of da capo arias, by the success in London of ballad operas such as The Beggar's Opera and John Frederick Lampe's The Dragon of Wantley, the latter of, visited by Handel. Serse disappeared from the stage for two hundred years, it enjoyed its first modern revival in Göttingen on 5 July 1924 in a version by Oscar Hagen. By 1926 this version had been staged at least 90 times in 15 German cities. Serse's success has continued. According to Winton Dean, Serse is Handel's most popular opera with modern audiences after Giulio Cesare.
The features which 18th-century listeners found so disconcerting - the shortness of the arias and the admixture of comedy - may account for its appeal to the 20th and the 21st centuries. Serse was produced for the stage at the La Scala Theater in Milan, Italy in January 1962; the production was conducted by Piero Bellugi, an all-star cast featuring Mirella Freni, Rolando Panerai, Fiorenza Cossotto, Irene Companez, Leonardo Monreale, Franco Calabrese, Luigi Alva in the title role. Because Handel operas were still in a early stage of their return to the stage, musicians had not yet thought to ornament the da capo sections of the arias and thus, they were not ornamented. There is a live recording from January 1962 available on the Opera D'oro label. A complete recording was made in 1979. A highly acclaimed production, sung in English, was staged by the English National Opera in 1985, to mark the 300th anniversary of the composer's birth. Conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras, it was directed by Nicholas Hytner, who translated the libretto, starred Ann Murray in the title role, with Valerie Masterson as Romilda, Christopher Robson as Arsamene, Lesley Garrett as Atalanta.
The production returned for a sixth revival to the London Coliseum in September 2014, starring Alice Coote as Xerxes. Place:Abydos, Persia Time: about 470 BC A garden with a large plane tree and a summerhouse on the side The King of Persia, gives effusive, loving thanks to the plane tree for furnishing him with shade.. Arsamene with his buffoon-like servant Elviro enters, they stop. Romilda is making gentle fun of Serse with her song, he is in love with a tree. Serse does not know that his brother is in love with the singer, entranced by her music, Serse announces that he wants her to be his. Arsamene is horrified. Arsamene warns Romilda of what Serse wants - this encourages Atalanta, Romilda's sister, secretly in love with Arsamene and hopes that Romilda will be Serse's and she can have Arsamene. Serse tells Romilda that he wants her for his queen and when Arsamene remonstrates Serse banishes him. Romilda is determined to remain faithful to Arsamene. Outside the palace Princess Amastre now arrives, disguised as
Teseo is an opera seria with music by George Frideric Handel, the only Handel opera, in five acts. The Italian-language libretto was after Philippe Quinault's Thésée, it was Handel's third London opera, intended to follow the success of Rinaldo after the unpopular Il pastor fido. First performed on 10 January 1713,Teseo featured "magical" effects such as flying dragons, transformation scenes and apparitions and had a cast of notable Italian opera singers, it was a success with London audiences, receiving thirteen performances though the stage machinery for the "magical" effects broke down, would have received more performances had not one of the theatre's managers run away with the box office receipts. The opera was premiered at the Queen's Theatre in the Haymarket on 10 January 1713, it received an additional 12 performances through 16 May 1713. The singers included the castratos Valentino Urbani. Between 1713 and 1984, there were only two revivals, the first being the revival under Fritz Lehmann in Göttingen on 29 June 1947.
As with all Baroque opera seria, Teseo went unperformed for many years, but with the revival of interest in Baroque music and informed musical performance since the 1960s,Teseo, like all Handel operas, receives performances at festivals and opera houses today. Among other productions, the Handel Festival, Halle performed the work in 2003, the Frankfurt Opera mounted a production in 2013, the work received a staging at the Theater an der Wien in 2018. Scene:Athens, in legendary antiquityKing Egeo of Athens, years before the action begins, had sent away his baby son to a far-off land. Now a grown man, the hero Teseo is fighting on behalf of Athens, his identity as the king's son unknown to himself or others. Teseo is engaged in battle against Athens' foes. Princess Agilea, the ward of King Egeo, is concerned for Teseo's safety, as she confides to her companion the young maiden Clizia, for Agilea has fallen hopelessly in love with Teseo. Clizia has a boyfriend, whom she promises to love always, but when she asks him to find out what he can about Teseo's safety, he becomes jealous.
The Athenians have been victorious in battle, King Egeo declares that his announced marriage to Medea, a sorceress, is now no longer suitable for such a mighty sovereign as himself and he will take Princess Agilea as his bride. Agilea bewails her cruel fate, having no wish to be a Queen, but to be allowed to marry the man she loves, Teseo. Medea is furious at the humiliation caused to her by the King's rejection. Arcane, jealous of Teseo because of his misinterpretation of his sweetheart Clizia's concern for him, warns the King not to trust Teseo who, Arcane suggests, will want to throw Egeo off the throne and take his place now that he has become such a military hero. Medea meanwhile sows seeds of distrust in Teseo's mind – the King is jealous of him, Medea says, only she knows how to treat the King to allay this bad feeling. Teseo tells Medea. Medea, full of hatred, vows revenge for the insults. Arcane has decided to seek marriage to Clizia; the King, learning that Agilea is in love not with him but with Teseo, does not wish to force her to marry him and has given his consent for Agilea and Teseo to be united.
The lovers are overjoyed at this news but Medea and rejected once more, bursts into the room where Agilea and Teseo are celebrating their reunion and, by casting spells, changes the scene to a desert full of terrifying apparitions who carry Agilea away. The King is told by Arcane of; the horrified Egeo swears. In the enchanted realm where Agilea is captive, Medea tells her she must agree to marry the King instead of Teseo, or the hero will meet his death. Medea shows her a vision of the sleeping Teseo. Agilea agrees to renounce him and marry the King instead to save Teseo's life, whereupon Medea transforms the scene to a paradisaical realm where Teseo hears Agilea's voice tearfully telling him she no longer loves him. Agilea's sorrow moves the heart of Medea who informs the lovers she will no longer attempt to part them, to the joy of Teseo and Agilea. Medea's sympathy for Teseo and Agilea's love did not last long. Teseo and Agilea enter with their friends; the King offers to drink to their happiness and gives Teseo the poisoned drink to toast with in return.
Teseo draws his sword to swear his loyalty to the King and is about to drink the poisoned beverage when the King recognises the sword as the one he had sent with his baby son years before so that he would be able to recognise him when grown up. The King embraces him as his son. Not only will Teseo and Agilea now live in married happiness and Clizia can marry too; the enraged Medea appears on a flying chariot drawn by fire-breathing dragons. Swearing vengeance, she orders the dragons to set the palace on fire, but the goddess Minerva descends from heaven, banishes Medea, blesses the King, the two pairs of lovers, Athens; the German-born Handel, after spending some of his early career composing operas and other pieces in Italy, settled in London, where in 1711 he had brought Italian opera for the first time with his opera Rinaldo. A tremendous success, Rinaldo created a craze in Lo
Rodrigo is an opera in three acts composed by George Frideric Handel. Its original title was Vincer se stesso è la maggior vittoria; the opera is based on the historical figure of the last Visigothic king of Spain. The libretto was based on Francesco Silvani's II duello d'Amore e di Vendetta. Dating from 1707, it was Handel's first opera written for performance in Italy, the first performance took place in Florence late in 1707; the opera was revived in Innsbruck. A lost fragment from Act III had been found in 1983, a more complete production was given by the Handel Opera Society under Charles Farncombe at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London in 1985. Among other performances, Rodrigo was staged in Karlsruhe in 1987, by the Handel Festival, Halle in 2002 and by the International Festival of Baroque and Romantic Opera, France, in 2018. Prior to the start of the opera, Rodrigo had deposed the previous king, corrupt, but Rodrigo indulged in the same vices after he had become king. One example was his seduction of Florinda.
Rodrigo had intended to leave his wife Esilena, infertile, marry Florinda. However, Rodrigo has not kept this promise; the start of the opera brings news. In spite of her husband's betrayal, Esilena stays loyal to Rodrigo. Rodrigo demands that the last surviving son of Vitizza, be executed. However, Esilena asks that Evanco be spared, he is turned over to the custody of Giuliano. Giuliano learns of Rodrigo's broken promise to Florinda, abandons his former support of Rodrigo to make an alliance with Evanco. Evanco is himself in love with Florinda. Rodrigo tells Esilena of his infidelity with Florinda. Esilena is prepared to renounce the throne to Florinda. At the military camp, Giuliano promises Evanco the throne. Fernando has secretly offered his help to Giuliano against Rodrigo. Giuliano accepts the offer, in spite of warnings. Esilena offers to surrender her husband to Florinda in exchange for peace. Florinda determined to have vengeance for Rodrigo's betrayal. Fernando has taken him to Rodrigo. Rodrigo wants Giuliano executed, but Fernando and Esilena halt that intention for fear of stoking the rebellion.
Rodrigo conveys through Fernando the message to Evanco that the only way he will be pardoned is to surrender himself. The only way that Florinda can save her brother is to leave the kingdom; the army of Evanco attacks and breaches the city. As they enter, they see Giuliano surrounded by Rodrigo's soldiers with Fernando about to kill him. Fernando presents Rodrigo's message. Evanco kills Fernando and saves Giuliano; the forces of Rodrigo battle those of Giuliano and Evanco, Rodrigo is defeated and captured. As Giuliano and Evanco are about to execute Rodrigo, Florinda demands that task for herself. Before she can kill Rodrigo, Esilena enters with Florinda's son, says that if Florinda wants to kill the father, she should kill the son as well; this stops Florinda, who offers to spare Rodrigo. Giuliano and Evanco want none of that. Rodrigo has become humbled at this turn of events, tells Esilena that he may punish him for his infidelity, she does not do so. Rodrigo is allowed to abdicate the throne, to go into voluntary exile with Esilena.
Evanco ascends the throne, he marries Florinda. They intend to raise Florinda's son by Rodrigo as the heir to the throne. Giuliano becomes regent; the German-born Handel had worked at the opera house in Hamburg from the age of eighteen, playing the violin and harpsichord and composing several operas, the music of, lost except for one, a success. From 1706 t0 1709 Handel lived and worked in Italy, where he composed several Italian operas, Rodrigo being the first; the combination of Handel's Germanic roots with the Italianate style of music which he absorbed in his early career in Florence and Rome, created Handel's unique style. According to John Mainwaring, Handel's first biographer, Rodrigo was popular and he "was presented with 100 sequins, a service of plate; this may serve for a sufficient testimony of its favourable reception."The opera is scored for two recorders, two oboes, strings,and continuo. Notes SourcesDean, Winton. "Handel's Operas, 1704-1726". Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-315219-3. Italian libretto Rodrigo: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
Admeto, re di Tessaglia is a three-act opera written for the Royal Academy of Music with music composed by George Frideric Handel to an Italian-language libretto prepared by Nicola Haym. The story is based on Euripides' Alcestis; the opera's first performance was at the Haymarket Theatre in London on 31 January 1727. The original cast included Faustina Bordoni as Alcestis and Francesca Cuzzoni as Antigona, as Admeto was the second of the five operas that Handel composed to feature these two prime donne of the day; the opera was successful at its first performances. However the presence of two prima donnas in the London operas had created factions of partisan supporters of either one or the other ladies, some performances were disrupted by hisses and loud cat calls by supporters of one of the star sopranos whenever the other one was singing, creating public scandal; the German-born Handel, after spending some of his early career composing operas and other pieces in Italy, settled in London, where in 1711 he had brought Italian opera for the first time with his opera Rinaldo.
A tremendous success, Rinaldo created a craze in London for Italian opera seria, a form focused overwhelmingly on solo arias for the star virtuoso singers. In 1719, Handel was appointed music director of an organisation called the Royal Academy of Music, a company under royal charter to produce Italian operas in London. Handel was not only to compose operas for the company but hire the star singers, supervise the orchestra and musicians, adapt operas from Italy for London performance. Handel had composed numerous Italian operas with varying degrees of success; the star soprano Francesca Cuzzoni had partnered with internationally renowned castrato Senesino as the leading performers in a long series of Italian operas by Handel and other composers for the Academy, to increase audience interest, the directors decided to import another celebrated singer from Italy, soprano Faustina Bordoni, so that the operas would have not one but two leading ladies onstage. This was a common practice in opera houses of the day in Italy and Cuzzoni and Faustina, as Bordoni was called, had appeared together in various European cities without incident.
Scene:Greece, in legendary times. In a room of his palace, dominated by a statue of the god Apollo, King Admetus of Thessaly lies dying, tormented by terrible dreams, he is told by a courtier, that his brother, Trasimede, is in a bad way, obsessed with the portrait of a woman. The hero Hercules, on his never ending mission to perform glorious deeds to increase his fame, has come to pay a visit to his friend King Admetus; as her husband the king sleeps, his wife Alceste prays to Apollo to spare his life. The statue speaks and informs her that only if a close relative dies in his place will Admetus be permitted to continue to live. Alceste resolves to sacrifice her life for her husband. Living in a nearby wood, disguised as shepherds, are Princess Antigona of Troy and her tutor Merapse. King Admetus jilted her in favour of Alceste; this rejection of her is the reason, Antigona believes, why he is being punished with a mortal illness. She sends Merapse to the palace. In the gardens of the palace, Alceste holds a dagger, preparing to die in her husband's place as she bids farewell to her grieving ladies-in-waiting, retires.
Admetus, enters with his friend Hercules, celebrating his recovery. Lamentations are heard from within and Admetus is horrified to see his wife's dead body. Admetus knows that Hercules once descended into the underworld and brought the hero Theseus back to the land of the living and asks him to do the same for Alceste, to which Hercules agrees. Merapse tells her about Alceste's death and Admetus' recovery, they are glad that now there seems to be nothing in the way of Admetus making Antigona his wife, as he had promised. A hunting party approaches, led by Trasimede, who recognises Antigona as the woman whose portrait he carries about with him at all times, never ceasing to gaze at it, she insists, that he is mistaken. Trasimede offers her a job at the palace, working as a gardener, which Antigona is glad to accept as she will be able to be close to Admetus that way and hopes to teach him a lesson; the second act opens in Hades. Hercules appears, fights with Cerberus the guard dog of hell, overcomes the Furies and breaks the fetters tying Alceste to the rock.
She joyfully looks forward to being reunited with her husband. Antigona is working at her new job as a gardener at the palace, where she has attracted the unwelcome attentions of the courtier Orindo, whom she spurns. Trasimede has lost interest in the portrait he was so obsessed with now he sees "Rosilda" who so resembles it, tosses the portrait aside, whereupon Orindo picks it up. Antigona / "Rosilda" is not interested in anyone but King Admetus and rejects Trasimede also. Orindo takes the portrait to Admetus and tells him that Trasimede had not been honest when he had shown him another portrait of the Trojan princess he had been engaged to. Admetus is astonished by the resemblance of the portrait to his new gardener "Rosilda". Admetus gives no satisfactory answer, leaving "Rosilda" sti
Saul is a dramatic oratorio in three acts written by George Frideric Handel with a libretto by Charles Jennens. Taken from the First Book of Samuel, the story of Saul focuses on the first king of Israel's relationship with his eventual successor, David; the work, which Handel composed in 1738, includes the famous "Dead March", a funeral anthem for Saul and his son Jonathan, some of the composer's most dramatic choral pieces. Saul was first performed at the King's Theatre in London on 16 January 1739; the work was revived by Handel in subsequent seasons. Notable modern-day performances of Saul include that at Glyndebourne in 2015; the German-born Handel had been resident in London since 1712 and had there enjoyed great success as a composer of Italian operas. His opportunities to set English texts to music had been more limited. In 1731, a performance of the 1718 version of Esther, a work in English based on a Biblical drama by Jean Racine, was given in London without Handel's participation and had proved popular, so Handel revised the work and planned to present it at the theatre where his Italian operas were being presented.
However the Bishop of London would not permit a drama based on a Biblical story to be acted out on the stage, therefore Handel presented Esther in concert form, thus giving birth to the English oratorio. Esther in its revised form proved a popular work, Handel, though still continuing to focus on composition of Italian operas, followed Esther with two more sacred dramas with English words to be presented in concert form and Athalia, both in 1733. By 1738, Handel was experiencing some difficulty in maintaining support for his Italian opera seasons in London and he collaborated for the first time with Charles Jennens, a wealthy landowner and lover of the arts, who provided the texts for Messiah and other oratorios of Handel. Jennens wrote Saul, an original English text based on Biblical characters designed to provide opportunities for the sort of music Handel composed. Opera seria, the form of Italian opera that Handel composed for London, focused overwhelmingly on solo arias and recitatives for the star singers and contained little else.
With the English oratorios Handel had the opportunity to mix operatic arias in English for the soloists with large choruses of the type that he used in the Coronation anthems. Jennens provided a text with dramatic effects; the collaboration with Jennens was not without tension. Jennens got his way. Handel composed the music of Saul between July and September 1738, he conceived Saul on the grandest scale and included a large orchestra with many instrumental effects which were unusual for the time including a carillon. In the same letter in which Jennens complained that Handel wanted a chorus of "Hallelujahs" at a point of the drama the writer felt was inappropriate, he wrote of a meeting he had with Handel to discuss the work and the composer's delight in some of the unusual instruments he planned to use: Mr. Handel's head is more full of Maggots than ever: I found yesterday in His room a queer Instrument which He calls Carillon & says some call it a Tubal-cain, I suppose because it is in the make and tone like a Hammer striking upon Anvils.'Tis played upon with Keys like a Harpsichord, & with this Cyclopean Instrument he designs to make poor Saul stark mad.
His second Maggot is an Organ of 500 £ price. I could tell you more of his Maggots: but it grows late, I must defer the rest till I write next. Of note in that letter is the fact that although Handel's London seasons of Italian opera had not been drawing the audiences they had in former years, Jennens makes an incidental remark that the composer was wealthy. On 5 December 1738 Lady Katherine Knatchbull, a friend and patron of Hand