George Frederick Handel

Ezio, opera, HWV 29

    Description by Rita Laurance

    Handel's third setting of a libretto by the opera seria maverick Metastasio was Ezio, premiered in the 1731-1732 opera season at the Haymarket. The story is taken from historical happenings in fifth century Rome. Again the plot concerns political machinations, love, jealousy, and familial relationships. Some of the best music was written for Handel's new singer Antonio Montangana, a bass voice with an incredible range and vocal dexterity. Although Varo is a minor character in the plot, Handel took advantage of his new talent. The villain in the piece is Massimo, whose character Handel draws as strongly as Shakespeare's Iago. Graced with a loving daughter, he seeks to involve her in his treacherous intrigues, while she only tries to shield him from certain retribution. The music that Handel gives the daughter transports the listener beyond the illogic of their relationship. And Massimo's insinuating basso weaves the plot with compelling wickedness, the perfect foil for her sublime and loving virtues.

    The opening to Ezio is extremely powerful. Handel altered all of the Metastasio librettos with which he worked. Metastasio wrote lengthy recitatives for his characters, and adhered strictly to the opera seria convention of the exit aria. Each scene began with a recitative, and ended with a full blown da capo aria, after which the character on stage exited. Handel deleted the opening recitative of the hero Ezio. Instead, there is a huge victory celebration, in which the general Ezio is congratulated on saving the country. He processes to the throne of the emperor surrounded by slaves and captives from his battles. He is praised and lauded to great fanfare and sumptuous music, and to crowds of adoring Roman subjects. Handel integrates his overture into this victory celebration. The last movement of the overture is a military march, during which the curtain rises on the procession already in progress.

    The ending of Poro also is changed. Instead of the moral of the story being pronounced by a typical Metastasian coro, Handel builds to his ending with dramatic fervor. All of the intrigues of Massimo are revealed. A mob scene of a revolt of the Roman populace precedes the obligatory happy ending. The music is unified thematically and by form. Again a complex structure has been created out of several pieces which culminate dramatically with the addition of horns to the orchestra. Each character takes the theme in turn to varied music adapted to their emotions, until finally all of the characters come together in ensemble. The love plot is resolve, political insurrection is repressed, and all ends happily as is required by convention. Although the music to Ezio is extremely fine, the opera was a dismal failure, and never revived.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture in B flat major
    2. March in F major
    3. Signor, vincemmo. Attila fugitivo, Recitative
    4. Se tu la reggi al volo, Aria
    5. Lascia, ch'al senti stringa, Recitative
    6. Pensa a serbarmi, oh cara, Aria
    7. È tempo, Oh genitore, Recitative
    8. Caro padre, a me non dei, Aria
    9. Un oltraggiato amore, Recitative
    10. Il nocchier, che si figura, Aria
    11. Del vincitor ti chiedo, Recitative
    12. Quanto mai felice siete, Aria
    13. Perchè tanto tormento?, Recitative
    14. Se un bell'ardire può innamorarti, Aria
    15. Ola? Ezio qui venga?, Recitative
    16. Se poevero il ruscello mormora lento, Aria
    17. Olà? Ezio qui venga?, Recitative
    18. Se povero il ruscello mormora lento, Aria
    19. Ola? Ezio qui venga?, Recitative
    20. Signor! Duce, un momento, Recitative
    21. So chi t'accese: basta per ora, Aria
    22. Ezio, ti leggo in volto l'ire del cor, Recitative
    23. Ezio, vole il germano avvilir la mia mano, Recitative
    24. Se fedele mi brama il regnante, Aria
    25. A Cesare nascondi, Recitative
    26. Via, per mio danno ad una, Recitative
    27. Finchè un zeffiro soave, Aria
    28. Sinfonia in G major
    29. Avrà punito Emilio, Recitative
    30. Qual silenzio è mai questo!, Sinfonia & Recitative
    31. Ah! genitor! Figlia, che porti?, Recitative
    32. Ogni via custodite, ed ogni ingresso, Recitative
    33. Cesare, in vano il traditor cercai, Recitative
    34. Vi fida lo sposo, vi fida il regnante, Aria
    35. E puoi d'un tuo delitto, Recitative
    36. Va', dal furor protate, Aria
    37. Che fo? dove mi volgo?, Recitative
    38. Ah, qual consiglio mai, Recitative
    39. Cesare a te m'invia, Recitative
    40. Recagli quell'acciaro, che gli diffese il trono, Aria (
    41. Varo, se amasti mai, Recitative
    42. Quel finger affetto allorche non s'ama, Aria
    43. Folle è colui, che al tuo favor si fida, Recitative
    44. Vasce al bosco in rozza cuna, Aria
    45. Massimo, anch'io lo veggo, Recitative
    46. Onoria, non partir, Recitative
    47. Finchè per te mi palapita timido in petto il cor, Aria
    48. Olà! qui si conduca, Recitative
    49. Stelle! che miro!, Recitative
    50. La mia costanza non si sgomenta, Aria
    51. Ah! ingrata!, Recitative
    52. Chi di me più felice?, Recitative
    53. Ecco alle mie catene, eco a morir m'invio, Aria
    54. Sinfonia in E major
    55. Ezio qui venga, il suo fatal periglio, Recitative
    56. Guarda pria se in questa fronte, Aria
    57. Eh ben, da quel superbo, Recitative
    58. Peni tu per un ingrata, Aria
    59. Olà! Varo si chiami, Recitative
    60. Signor, tutto sedai, Recitative
    61. Ezio, qui tra di noi d'odio più non si parli, Recitative
    62. Vedi qual dono. Fulvia! Che mai sara!, Recitative
    63. Se la mia vita dono è d'Augusto, Aria
    64. Che mai sarà?, Recitative
    65. Eseguito è il tuo cenno: Ezio mori, Recitative
    66. Liete novelle, Augusto, Recitative
    67. Massimo, di scolparti, Recitative
    68. Per tutto il timore perigli m'adita, Aria
    69. Cara figlia, per te vivo, Recitative
    70. Tergi l'ingiuste lagrime, dilegua il tuo martiro, Aria
    71. Misera, dove son!, Recitative
    72. Ah! non son io che parlo, Aria
    73. Inorridsci, o Roma, Recitative
    74. Gia risonar d'intorno, Aria
    75. Ah, traditori! Amico, Recitative
    76. Cesare viva! Ezio! Che veggio!, Recitative
    77. Stringo al fine il mio contento, Aria
    78. Sulle sponde di cocito, Aria
    79. Cangia sorte di ripente, Aria
    80. Un gran cor non dà ricetto, Aria
    81. È più bella quella fede, Chorus

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2009
    Archiv Produktion
    001280902
    2003
    Deutsche Schallplatten
    1051