Handel Opera Alessandro

Opera Alessandro by Handel premieres, May 5

Opera Alessandro by George Frideric Handel is first performed on May 5, 1726. The venue is at London's King Theatre, with Faustina Bordoni making her debut as Rossane.  The opera is in 3 acts, text by Paulo Antonio Rolli.

Summary of Handel Opera Alessandro

Opera Alessandro (Alexander the Great, HWV 21) is an opera written for the Royal Academy of Music in 1719, composed by George Frideric Handel in 1726. Paolo Rolli was the librettist who based the story on Ortensio Mauro's La superbia d'Alessandro.  The opera was first performed on 5 May 1726 at the King's Theatre, London.

The story of opera Alessandro by Handel is based around Alexander the Great's journey to India, where he meets Poro, the king of India. After capturing one of its cities, and becoming the king of Macedonia, he becomes involved in a complicated love triangle with two captive princesses.  Alessandro has delusions believing that he is the son of the god Jupiter, therefore, he demands to be worshipped as a god. His Macedonian captains conspire to cure him of this belief.  During the course of the work, Rossane and Lisaura are rivals for the affection of Alessandro.

Note on Handel's original opera Alessandro

Alessandro was the first opera where composer Handel cast together the famous singers Faustina Bordoni, as Rossane, and Francesca Cuzzoni, as Lisaura. He made use of their real-life professional rivalry in his treatment of the story.

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sings "Brilla nell'alma" from Händel's opera Alessandro, accompanied by Il Pomo d'Oro.

YouTube Video Credit:

Joyce DiDonato sings "Brilla nell'alma from Handel's Opera Alessandro. Youtube, uploaded by Miss Helena1011. Accessed May, 5, 2016.

Related Link:
The opera was aired in BBC Radio broadcast some two years ago 2009.  If interested, for more information about opera Alessandro, check out Handel Opera Cycle at BBC Through the Night.

King, Richard G., "Classical History and Handel's Alessandro" (February 1996). Music and Letters, 77 (1): pp. 34-63.

Price, Curtis, Review of recording of Alessandro (August 1986). Early Music, 14 (3): pp. 450, 452, 454.

Rosenthal. H and Warrack, J.  The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera. London: OUP, 1973 Reprint.

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