ARIODANTE HANDEL'S STUNNING OPERATIC TRAGEDY
One of the most dramatic operas written by George Frederic Händel, this opera tells a dramatic story of love and jealousy in the court of the King of Scotland. First performed in 1735, long after the German born composer arrived in England to provide Italian opera for the noble classes in 1712, this is one of the great rediscovered works of the baroque period.
Despite being popular with the Royal Family in England and performed eleven times in its first season of 1735, the opera fell out of favour and was lost until the 1960s.
The opera opens with news of our hero's future marriage to the daughter of the King of Scotland, Ginevra. Enraged with jealousy, Polinesso begins a rumour that he is the lover of Ginevra and begins his own plot to marry the princess in place of her betrothed. The opera was written with ballet sequences planned throughout each performance.
Princess Ginevra is preparing herself to meet her betrothed and ask her father, the King of Scotland for permission to get married. In her chambers, Polinesso enters and declares his love for Ginevra, he is rebuffed and leaves unhappily. Polinesso then hatches a plot with Ginevra's friend, Dalinda to discredit Ginevra by making it appear as though she and Polinesso are having an affair. Dalinda agrees under the impression she will be allowed to marry Polinesso.
Outside the rooms of Ginevra, Polinesso meets the future husband of the princess and acts shocked at news of their marriage before stating he is her lover. To prove his allegations, Polinesso is greeted by Dalinda disguised as Ginevra and enters her chambers for the night. In a fit of jealousy, Ginevra's future husband attempts suicide, but is rescued by his brother, Lurcanio.
Polinesso's betrayals continue as he attempts to have Dalinda, the only witness to his crimes killed. Dalinda is rescued from her assassins by Ginevra's unhappy fiance, who is then told of the plot hatched by Polinesso by Dalinda. Back at the court of the King of Scotland, polinesso confesses his supposed infidelity with Ginevra to the King and offers to act as her champion in a forthcoming joust. The King orders Ginevra be arrested and Polinesso fight for her honour at that days joust, Lurcanio swears revenge for the apparent suicide of his brother and challenges Polinesso to a fight. Mortally wounded by Lurcanio, Polinesso is taken to his death bed where he confesses his betrayal, prompting Ginevra to be pardoned from her sentence of death.
THE MAIN ROLES
Ariodante, a Prince, Mezzo-Soprano castrato
Ginevra, a Princess, Soprano
Polinesso, Duke of Albany, Contralto
Dalinda, Ginevra's Attendant and Friend, Soprano
Lurcanio, a Prince, Tenor