was the second of the three operas for which Handel used librettos by the distinguished Italian poet Metastasio. It was produced at the King’s Theatre on 15 January 1732 and had only five performances, the public perhaps reacting against its rather austere style, without ensemble numbers until the final chorus (and even there the singers only unite for the last few bars). The arias are all of high quality, however, and the opera works well on the stage. The action is set in Rome and is based on events in the last years of the rule of the emperor Valentinian III (425–455). Ezio (Aetius) returns to Rome after defeating Attila the Hun. He is received with due honours by the emperor Valentiniano and looks forward to being reunited with his fiancée Fulvia, the daughter of the Roman patrician Massimo (Maximus). Massimo, however, wants revenge for the emperor’s attempted rape of his wife, and tries to involve Ezio in an assassination plot by telling him that the emperor wants Fulvia for himself. He also instructs Fulvia to accept an offer of marriage from the emperor, but only so that she can kill him, or give Massimo the opportunity to do so. She is appalled at her father’s plan, but he insists that she must obey him. In this tender aria, she pleads with him to take back his terrible command.
from notes by Anthony Hicks © 2000