Friday, 30 May 2008

104. George Friedric Handel - Serse (1738)


Title: Serse
Performers: Les Arts Florissants, Anne Sofie Von Otter, et al.
Director: William Christie
Year: 2003
Length: 2 hours 40 minutes


Another Handel Opera, the last one on the list, and another version by William Christie, undeniable king of Baroque opera. Still, Serse, despite its occasional moments of brilliance does not stand out enough in Handel's repertoire to be up there with Cesare.

Serse starts very well indeed with a couple of great moments in Fronde Tenere and Ombra Mai Fu but then as the music develops there are little more interesting moments, although there are telling differences in this opera. Handel is most obviously taking notes from people like Rameau, his arias are considerably shorter, gone are the 9 minute 'da capos', some of the arias do not even repeat the first part at the end.

Then Handel is raising his number of choirs in an opera from 1 at the end, and 2 at most as in Cesare to having at least one in each Act and two in the last Act, for a grand total of 4 choral scenes! This is unprecedented in Handel. That and the inclusion of a purely comic relief character like Elviro show a more populist move from Handel. And then the plot is the usual non-sense of mistaken identities and silliness, even if it is more comedic than usual.

Final Grade



The opening aria, "Ombra mai fu", a love song sung by Xerxes to a tree (Platanus orientalis), is set to one of Handel's best-known melodies, and is often played in an orchestral arrangement, known as Handel's "largo" (despite being marked "larghetto" in the score).

Frondi Tenere followed by Ombra Mai Fu, from here on out it's all downhill:

1 comment:

Adriano EspĂ­nola Filho said...
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