Hyperion Records

Ariodante, HWV33
First line:
E vivo ancora? E senza il ferro?
composer
first performed at Covent Garden, London, on 8 January 1735
author of text
after Salvi's Ginevra, Principessa di Scozia, itself based on Ariosto's Orlando furioso

Recordings
'Handel: Arias' (CDA67979)
Handel: Arias
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67979  NEW   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Handel: Heroic Arias' (CDH55370)
Handel: Heroic Arias
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55370  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)   Download currently discounted
Details
Act 1 Scene 8. Aria: Con l'ali di costanza (Ariodante)
Act 2 Scene 3. Aria: Scherza infida! (Ariodante)  E vivo ancora? E senza il ferro?
Act 3 Scene 9. Aria: Dopo notte (Ariodante)

Ariodante, HWV33
EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Handel’s operatic fortunes waned after the glory years of the early 1720s. The Royal Academy in the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, was dissolved after the 1728 season, re-founded the following year and continued, with fitful success, until his contract ran out at the end of the financially disastrous 1733–4 season. Yet true to form, the forty-nine-year-old Handel remained unbowed. He immediately teamed up with the actor-manager John Rich at his new Covent Garden theatre, built on the back of the fortune he had made from The Beggar’s Opera at his former theatre. Trained as a dancer himself, Rich specialized in multimedia extravaganzas combining music, dance and spectacular visual effects. The rival Opera of the Nobility had scored a coup by enlisting the celebrated castrato Farinelli. Rich retaliated by engaging a comparable star: the Parisian ballerina Marie Sallé, the Isadora Duncan of her day, renowned for her choreography and daring costumes alike.

Handel’s first Covent Garden opera, Ariodante, drawing on episodes from Ariosto’s epic Orlando furioso, duly incorporated ballet numbers for Sallé and her troupe at the end of each act. The setting is Edinburgh, though there is no trace of local colour, save Ariosto’s erroneous belief that in medieval Scotland a sexually unfaithful woman was automatically put to death. The crux of Ariosto’s plot—Duke Polinesso’s tricking of Ariodante into believing that Princess Ginevra, daughter of the King of Scotland, has betrayed him—was the source of the episode in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing in which Don John contrives to inflame the jealousy of his rival-in-love Claudio.

Ariodante scored a fair success on its premiere on 8 February 1735, and ran for a further ten performances. After Sallé, the biggest draw was the celebrated castrato Giovanni Carestini in the role of Ariodante. The music historian Charles Burney described him as ‘tall, beautiful, majestic … he rendered everything he sung interesting by good taste, energy, and judicious embellishments’. Handel exploited his ‘taste’, agility and two-octave range, going up to soprano high A, in a superb succession of arias that, as in all his greatest operas, simultaneously flatter the voice and illuminate the character.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2014

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

   English   Français   Deutsch