G. F. Handel opera "Xerxes"

G. F. Handel opera "Xerxes"

Among the musical and theatrical heritage of the Baroque era, a special place is occupied by works by G. F. Handel. "Xerxes" is the fortieth opera of the great composer, written on the libretto by Nicolo Minato. It is considered the most non-standard and unusual creation of the author, because in its musical language it anticipates many opera works of the next century.

The plot of the opera is based on freely interpreted events from the life of King Persia Xerxes I.


The Persian king Xerxes has tender feelings for his daughter, vassal Romilda. But their marriage was not destined to take place, and there are many reasons for this: Romilda is in love with the brother of King Arsamen, and this love is mutual, and Xerxes himself has the bride Amastra. All the heroes of the opera seek to find their happiness, and therefore they are trying in every way to outwit each other. The already tangled love story is complicated by the appearance of another loving heart - Sister Romilda Atalanta is also not indifferent to Arsamen. She intercepts the love note of this couple and gives it to the king. Xerxes decides to eliminate the opponent, marrying him to Atalanta, and finally arrange his happiness. But will he manage to make his plans when new characters appear in the story, a secret wedding and "unexpected avengers"? Most likely, no, you will answer, and correctly answer. But the outcome will be happy for everyone.

Interesting Facts

  • The Xerxes part is written by Handel for a singer-eunuch. This was partly the reason for public rejection of the opera: the absurd plot about the king's eunuch's love affairs looked, to put it mildly, implausible.
  • Opera "Xerxes" at the premiere in 1732 suffered a complete fiasco, after which it fell into oblivion for 200 years. For two centuries, it is not something that is not performed, and rarely did not remember.
  • The reasons for the failure of the performance were considered to be a completely incomprehensible composer's decision: the opera was declared as serious (opera seria), but Handel included elements of the comic genre in it. Because of such a bold reception, the work was called the worst in the heritage of Handel. The opera "Xerxes" will be reevaluated only a few centuries later, and will receive the title of an outstanding creation of the baroque genius.

Watch the video: Händel - Opera Rinaldo, HWV7. René Jacobs Freiburger Barockorchester (January 2020).


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