Handel's last four operas were composed after his own opera company had folded, and the rival opera company, the Opera of the Nobility as it has come to be known, had also gone bankrupt. His rival Porpora had left the country, as had many of the singers that had sung in his previous opera productions. Faramondo was written for the opera productions of Heidegger at the Haymarket Theatre. Heidegger decided to continue to try to produce operas, but Handel now only supplied new works, and many of the productions staged were by other composers. Faramondo was the first of the final group of Handel works, and is a heroic opera, much along the lines of the operas which he composed for the old Royal Academy of Music. The libretto is by Apostolo Zeno, an opera seria great. Although the structure of the libretto is typical of many opere serie, the texts for the arias are not standardized, for the libretto was rather old at the time, and reflects older trends in libretto writing. Whoever adapted the Zeno libretto for Handel cut down on the amount of the recitative to such an extent that the story is almost unrecognizable. Although there is some good music in the opera, it was a complete failure, and did not please London audiences.
Caffarelli, a castrato star and former pupil of the renowned vocal teacher Nicola Porpora, performed in the title role, creating a sensation with his virtuosic singing. But the opera, premiered January third, 1738, only lasted a few performances, and then had to be pulled.
The opera opens with an extended tableaux that sets the stage for the story, and involves a curse of vengeance. The musical style of Handel's later operas is lighter, often using dance forms and idioms, and scored in a galant vein. The scoring in this opera is very carefully thought out. One of the highlights of the opera is the duet between Faramondo and his beloved Rosamonda as he courts her. First he sings to her of his love for her, and then she responds, accompanied by the flutes, offering him hope that she will return his love. There are no flutes in the score after this duet. Instead, the climax is crowned by the addition of two horns in the final coro. Faramondo was Handel's last attempt at an heroic opera seria. After this, his interest in a lighter style of music also led him to the inclusion of comedy and buffo elements in his operas. His audience was more middle class now, and chorus and orchestra writing was more to their taste than virtuosic castrati and the inane heroics of the opere serie of old.