George Frederick Handel

Arianna in Creta, opera, HWV 32

    Description by Rita Laurance

    On December twenty-ninth, 1733, the Opera of the Nobility opened its doors at Lincoln's Inn Theatre. Backed by the Prince of Wales and his noble cronies, the opera was set up in direct competition to Handel's opera company, which was subsidized by the estranged Prince's father, King George I. Almost all of Handel's singers defected to the new company, and the director's of the Opera of the Nobility also imported a renowned opera seria composer and vocal teacher as their music director. Nicola Porpora, the trainer of some of the finest castrati of the era and a composer of opere serie arrived in London to help run the new company. This was not the first time that Handel had been faced with intense competition. He planned a huge season, and began writing Arianna in Crete as the new opera to be premiered. However the competitive Porpora found out about the opera and opened his season with his own setting of Arianna in Nasso.

    Handel hired a new castrati to replace Senesino, for the great star had defected. His new man, Carestini, sang for him from 1733-1735 as the lead in Ariodante and Alcina as well. Durastanti, an old friend of Handel, returned to London, and the prima donna star Strada stayed on with him also. Arianna in Crete premiered in January of 1734 and had a very decent run of fourteen performances. Musically the opera is characterized by the music for Carestini. He had incredible stamina, and could perform concerto-like vocal compositions with comparable ease. He excelled at the driving rhythms and violinistic ornamentation of the Italian concerto style.

    The overture to Arianna begins the dramatic action, for the orchestra is still playing when the curtain rises on the dire processions of victims of the minotaur. The story is set in the very first opening scene with this sad procession. The drama includes a moving someil scene, in which Theseus is shown his future glory by the Dreams. The spectacular highpoint of the drama is the fight between Theseus and the minotaur. Theseus sings a grand aria in E Flat, whose ritornello is extended to provide music for the scene of the hunt and battle between the hero and the beast.

    For the 1734-1735 operatic season, Handel was forced to move to John Rich's Covent Garden Theatre. There Rich had as part of his company the ballet company of Marie Salle from Paris. Handel was able to use her company as well as a resident chorus in his operatic productions for that season. When he revived Arianna in Crete, he incorporated ballet and choral movements, and added to the visual interest of the work.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture in D minor
    2. Egeo, mio genitor
    3. Sinfonia in G minor
    4. Qual presagio funesto!
    5. Pensa, oh Carilda
    6. Mirami, altero in volto
    7. Del labbro tuo l'accenti portan per l'aria i venti
    8. Non si disperi
    9. Dille, che nel mio seno
    10. Pur siam soli, idol mio
    11. Deh! lascia u tal desio ti prego idolo mio!
    12. Ma, non e questi Alceste?
    13. Nel pugnar col mostro infido
    14. Speriam; ma non si attenda
    15. Tal'or d'oscuro velo ricopre il be sereno
    16. Non piu che l'amor tuo m'offende?
    17. Son le vittime pronte?
    18. Perdona, Alceste
    19. Quel cor che adora vago sembiante
    20. Della patria e de' miseri il soccorso
    21. Volesti, al fin volesti nel tuo rischio
    22. Sdegnata sei con me, mi credi inganator
    23. E mi lascio il crudele?
    24. Sdegno, amore, fanno guerra a questo core
    25. Oh patria! oh cittadini!/Sol ristoro di mortali
    26. Disseratevi, o porte
    27. Io ti tengo, o mostro infame!
    28. Per Carilda, e per me dunque in periglio
    29. Salda quercia in erta balza
    30. Alceste e qui, si tenti
    31. Non ha diffesa, non ha cosiglio un core
    32. Il soccorrer Carilda
    33. So che non e piu mio, m'abbandono l'ingrato
    34. Pensa, che di Carilda il gran campion e forte
    35. Qual Leon, che fere irato
    36. Eh! la speme l'inganna, vieni!
    37. Me rispettate; or ora
    38. Narrar gli allor saprai
    39. Idolo mio! Va perfido
    40. Ti saresti ingannato
    41. Nelli sdegni d'Arianna vuol scherzar
    42. Al fine amore
    43. Fuggiam! Vieni mia sposa in Lenno!
    44. Che se fiera poi mi nieghi
    45. Numi, e voi lo soffrite!
    46. Son qual stanco pellegrino
    47. Perdon ti chiedo
    48. Ov'e Carilda? A me ne chiedi?
    49. Se ti condanno, giusta vendetta
    50. Ah! silenzio spietato!
    51. Bell'idolo amato, rasciuga quel pianto
    52. Quel crudele di me pieta non sente
    53. Se nel bosco resta solo rusignolo col suo canto,
    54. Sinfonia in B flat major
    55. Vorrai dunque, oh Carilda?
    56. Un tenero pensiero mi parla al cor per te
    57. Questa sola speranza
    58. Lusinghiera nel mio seno bella sorge la speranza
    59. Ove son, qual orrore?
    60. Qui ti sfido, o monstro infame!
    61. Ho vinto! Grazie ai Numi, salva
    62. Arianna! Che miro?
    63. Turbato il mar si vede con subita procella
    64. Se il Minotauro ei vinse, non ho men forte il core
    65. In mar tempestoso s'affanna il nocchiero
    66. Di te in traccia ne vengo
    67. Vincesti' tanto basti
    68. Mira adesso questo seno piu sereno
    69. Meta del mio gior
    70. Bella sorge la speranza
    71. Gavotte in A major
    72. Menuet in D major
    73. Gavotte in A major
    74. Musette in A major
    75. Menuet in D major
    76. Bella, tu vivi. Intendo (Supplemental)
    77. Ch'il crederia? pur dopo tante pene (Supplemental)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2006 MDG 6091375