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Parnasso in Festa, HWV73
first performed at the King's Theatre, Haymarket, London, on 13 March 1734, in honour of the marriage, the following day, of Princess Anne and Prince William of Orange; much of the music originated in Athalia (1733)
author of text

'Handel: Parnasso in Festa' (CDA67701/2)
Handel: Parnasso in Festa
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Part 1 No 01. Overture: Un poco allegro – Più allegro – Allegro
Track 1 on CDA67701/2 CD1 [6'21] 2CDs Last few CD copies remaining
Part 1 No 02. Aria: Verginelle (Clio)
Part 1 No 03. Coro: Corriamo pronte ad ubbidir
Part 1 No 04. Recitative: Germane, figlio amato (Apollo/Clio/Calliope/Orfeo/Clori/Euterpe/Marte)
Part 1 No 05. Solo e Coro: Deh! cantate un bell'amor (Apollo)
Part 1 No 06. Recitative: Ma prima che s'avanzi (Apollo)
Part 1 No 07. Aria: Spira al sen' celeste ardore (Orfeo)
Part 1 No 08. Aria: Gran Tonante, Giove immenso (Apollo)
Part 1 No 09. Coro: Già vien da lui il nostro ben
Part 1 No 10. Recitative: Spettacolo gradito (Clio)
Part 1 No 11. Aria: Con un vezzo lusinghiero (Clio)
Part 1 No 12. Recitative: Rimembranza gradita (Apollo)
Part 1 No 13. Duetto: Sin le grazie nel bel volto (Apollo/Clio)
Part 1 No 14. Recitative: Ma di sì belle fiamme (Clio)
Part 1 No 15. Aria: Quanto breve è il godimento (Clio)
Part 1 No 16. Recitative: Vada in oblio memoria sì funesta (Apollo)
Part 1 No 17. Coro: Cantiam a Bacco in sì lieto dì
Part 1 No 18. Aria: Del nume Lieo (Marte)
Part 1 No 19. Aria: Sciolga dunque al balla al canto (Apollo)
Part 1 No 20. Coro e Soli: S'accenda pur di festa il cor (Clio/Calliope/Apollo)
Part 1 No 21. Coro: Replicati al ballo al canto
Part 2 No 01. Soli e Coro: Nel petto sento un certo ardor (Calliope/Euterpe/Clori/Clio)
Part 2 No 02. Recitative: Qual tetra nube, Orfeo (Apollo)
Part 2 No 03. Aria: Torni pure un' bel splendore (Apollo)
Part 2 No 04. Recitative: Ogn'un mi siegua, e godi (Clio)
Part 2 No 05. Aria: Nel spiegar sua voce al canto (Clio)
Part 2 No 06. Recitative: E non s'udiran mai (Clori)
Part 2 No 07. Coro: O quanto bella gloria
Part 2 No 08. Aria: Tra sentier di amene selve (Clori)
Part 2 No 09. Coro: O quanto bella gloria
Part 2 No 10. Recitative: Che mai facesti Orfeo? (Calliope)
Part 2 No 11. Aria: Già le furie vedo ancor' (Calliope)
Part 2 No 12. Accompagnato: Dopo d'aver perduto il caro bene (Orfeo)
Part 2 No 13. Aria: Ho perso il caro ben' (Orfeo)
Part 2 No 14. Coro: S'unisce al tuo martir
Part 2 No 15. Recitative: Figlio, diletto Orfeo (Apollo)
Part 2 No 16. Duetto: Cangia in gioia il tuo dolor (Apollo/Clio)
Part 2 No 17. Recitative: Di Nettuno seguaci (Apollo)
Part 2 No 18. Coro: Coralli e perle vogliamo offrir
Part 3 No 01: Sinfonia
Track 14 on CDA67701/2 CD2 [0'35] 2CDs Last few CD copies remaining
Part 3 No 02. Recitative: Io che degli avi eccelsi (Marte)
Part 3 No 03. Coro e Solo: Si parli ancor di trionfar (Marte)
Part 3 No 04. Recitative: O stirpe gloriosa (Orfeo)
Part 3 No 05. Aria: Da sorgente rilucente (Orfeo)
Part 3 No 06. Recitative: Dall'opre illustri dei genitor (Calliope)
Part 3 No 07. Aria: Sempre aspira eccelso core (Calliope)
Part 3 No 08. Recitative: Delle dotte germane (Apollo)
Part 3 No 09. Aria: Non tardate Fauni ancora (Apollo)
Part 3 No 10. Coro: Accorriam senza dimora
Part 3 No 11. Recitative: Sia degli eccelsi sposi (Clio)
Part 3 No 12. Aria: Circondin lor' vite (Clio)
Part 3 No 13. Recitative: Con un' spirito divoto (Euterpe)
Part 3 No 14. Aria: Han' mente eroica (Euterpe)
Part 3 No 15. Recitative: Di virtù, di valor, pietà, e clemenza (Apollo)
Part 3 No 16. Solo e Coro: Lunga serie d'alti eroi (Apollo)

Parnasso in Festa, HWV73
The serenata is divided into three parts. The first part commences with Clio (the Muse of history) introducing the inhabitants of Mount Parnassus celebrating the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Apollo invites the Muses to ‘Come and sing love’s holy fire’; the chorus adds that music which is inspired by Heaven gives life to all who hear it. Orfeo (the son of Apollo) responds that ‘A heavenly flame our breast inspires of noble love to sing’. Apollo prays that Jupiter, ‘whose power, as bounteous as immense, does blessings to the world dispense’. The chorus acknowledges that all flocks, herds, fruits and flowers are gifts from Jupiter. Clio recalls the story of Apollo and Daphne. She sings that ‘Beauty charms us when it smiles; when it frowns, that beauty kills’. Apollo fondly remembers Daphne, while Clio observes that the hearts of all those who beheld Daphne were wounded. Clio reminds Apollo that Daphne rejected him and turned herself into a laurel tree in order to escape him, and laments that ‘How fast do our enjoyments fly, in the same moment they are born and die’. Apollo, as if feeling guilty or wanting to change the subject as quickly as possible, prefers to forget sad memories and encourages everybody to praise Bacchus. Mars wholeheartedly praises the liquor of the Gods that helps mortals overcome tempests and leads us to joy. Apollo invites ‘everyone with song and dance’ to celebrate Bacchus. Clio seems to let the alcohol have its effect on her, and tells us that she feels Bacchus’ ‘influence in my breast, I’m joyous, all inspired and pleased’. Orfeo, his mother Calliope (the Muse of epic poetry), and the chorus also express their merriment.

In Part 2 Calliope feels a fire within her breast ‘to sing of Orpheus and his heavenly lyre’. The huntress Clori, Clio and Euterpe (the Muse of music) all express admiration for Orfeo: ‘He who can please Hell’s gloomy powers and touch their hearts, must sure touch ours.’ Apollo attempts to persuade his son Orfeo to forget his grief. Clio observes that Orfeo’s singing can silence nature and make birds forget to sing. But the huntress Clori complains that ‘in Apollo’s palace shall we ne’er no sounds but softening accents hear?’ The chorus provides the sort of music Clori prefers and observes that the glorious hunter ‘ne’er feels love’s tormenting wound’. Clori proclaims that ‘Among the windings of the woods I chase wild beasts, and ever is my heart at ease; … fearless of danger from the snares of love’. Calliope ignores the splendid hunting digression, and asks Orfeo ‘Why turned you back your greedy eyes, when from Hell you came?’ and in her aria she describes how he is still tormented by the Furies after losing Euridice. In the only accompanied recitative during the serenata, Orfeo wishes that he could ‘the sad remembrance lose’ and laments that he finds no pleasure in Elysium. In his aria, he grieves that ‘never will my sky be clear’ and asks the chorus to have pity on his grief. Apollo consoles his son, suggesting that ‘your love’s so chaste and pure a flame as will the fury of infernals tame’. Clio tells Orfeo that ‘Glory and honour are your due’. They insist that the virtues of the royal couple Peleus and Thetis will bless the earth with greatness to equal Orfeo’s power. Upon Apollo’s command, Neptune’s Tritons sound their trumpets and celebrate ‘the illustrious hymeneal day of Thetis and Peleus’. Handel uses horns instead of trumpets, which perhaps illustrates the libretto’s reference to the Tritons playing musical instruments that look like shells.

The final part concentrates on the rejoicing at the marriage between Peleus and Thetis. The sinfonia announces the arrival of Mars, who pays tribute to the offspring of the Gods ‘on their nuptial day, their future glory to declare’. The chorus proclaims the fame of the royal couple’s glory and love. The music continues straight into Mars’s blessing of the royal couple: ‘virtue will always their companion be … A race of heroes they will give.’ Orfeo compares the royal couple to ‘A lovely riv’let from its spring’ which ‘does all its silver brightness bring’. Calliope calls upon Peleus to emulate the heroic deeds of his ancestors. Apollo invites nymphs and swains to prepare an offering ‘of fruits and fragant flowers … to this happy pair’. Clio hopes that the royal couple shall be an example of virtue to the world for the remainder of their lives, and that the Gods of Death will be generous to them. Euterpe describes how the royal couple shall win and delight the hearts of all their subjects. Apollo promises that ‘Succeeding heroes to the end of time, shall from this pair descend’. The chorus announces to the newly weds that Jove has decreed that ‘they shall ever happy be’.

from notes by David Vickers © 2008

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Details for CDA67701/2 disc 2 track 18
Part 3 No 5, Aria: Da sorgente rilucente (Orfeo)
Recording date
19 February 2008
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Ben Turner
Recording engineer
Philip Hobbs
Hyperion usage
  1. Handel: Parnasso in Festa (CDA67701/2)
    Disc 2 Track 18
    Release date: October 2008
    2CDs Last few CD copies remaining
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