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Dalla guerra amorosa, HWV102a

author of text

Dalla guerra amorosa, (HWV102a) is a dramatic secular continuo cantata which was very popular in Handel’s day. This version of the cantata for bass voice is in its original form although it is not clear who sang this work in Rome or when it was composed exactly. Despite initial evidence suggesting 1709, it was also feasible that it was composed the previous year for the bass singer Cristofano who had been employed by the Marquis Francesco Ruspoli for the role of Lucifer in La Resurrezione for the Easter of 1708. It was later included in a collection of Roman cantatas in Hanover; the newly appointed court music director of the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg apparently gave this cantata to the same bass singer who also undertook the role of the God of the Muses in his large-scale cantata Apollo e Dafne.

The theme of this cantata employs the familiar metaphor of fleeing from the war of love, which formerly inspired Monteverdi in several madrigals. This poignant cantata depicts a lover coming to the realization that it is better to flee from the war of love than to be defeated by the revengeful Amor, as the God of love armed with his arrows lurks behind every pair of bewitching beautiful black eyes.

The first aria depicts the treacherous effect of the ‘occhio nero’ (black eyes) in a disarming and fiery melody which Handel brought with him from Hamburg to Italy, based on the chorus from his Hamburg opera Die verwandelte Daphne. In both cases, this charming melody warns of the intrigues of the god of love. After a second recitative urging one to flee from treacherous love, La bellezza è come un fiore descends to gloomy minor regions and its impassioned melody suffused with chromatic steps depicts the transience of all that is beautiful on earth through the image of the wilting flower.

An extra section is added in at the end which concludes this cantata in F major, the dominant from the opening in B flat major. This rhythmically powerful arioso has a more urgent and active tone as the dramatic cry of the soloist advises one to fly away from the war of love, because whoever serves Amor will always be captured by love and remain his prisoner and therefore endure a joyless and painful life.

from notes by Bridget Cunningham © 2016


Handel: Handel in Italy, Vol. 2
Studio Master: SIGCD462Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Movement 1: Dalla guerra amorosa
Track 12 on SIGCD462 [0'28] Download only
Movement 2: Non v'alletti un occhio nero
Track 13 on SIGCD462 [3'22] Download only
Movement 3: Fuggite, sì fuggite!
Track 14 on SIGCD462 [0'38] Download only
Movement 4: La bellezza è come un fiore
Track 15 on SIGCD462 [2'19] Download only
Movement 5: Fuggite, sì fuggite, a che serve d'amor
Track 16 on SIGCD462 [1'10] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD462 track 12

Dalla guerra amorosa
Recording date
16 January 2013
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Christopher Alder & Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Neil Hutchinson & Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Handel: Handel in Italy, Vol. 2 (SIGCD462)
    Disc 1 Track 12
    Release date: September 2016
    Download only
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