Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno
Bellezza, an allegorical personification of beauty, fears change when she looks at herself in the mirror: “You will always stay as you are. But I, as I see myself in you, will not always be so beautiful.” Piacere, pleasure promises
the beautiful lady that she will never change. But Bellezza is plagued by doubts. Tempo, an allegory for time, and Disinganno, an allegory for disillusion, make it clear to her that life’s enduring values are not found in ephemeral appearances. Bellezza determines to cease behaving as a vain monster and renounces meaningless desire and faithless wishes. George Frideric Handel spent the years 1707/08 in Rome where performances of operas were prohibited by papal decree. So instead the 22-yearold composed his first oratorio. Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, to a libretto by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili, is one of only two Italian-language oratorios in Handel’s oeuvre. The other is La Resurrezione. The work accompanied Handel all his life, however. Fifty years after the premiere in the Collegio Clementino in Rome, Handel revised it towards the end of his life for the Covent Garden Theatre in London, where it played under the English title The Triumph of Time and Truth.