Patricia Bardon © Frances Marshall


Zenobia’s love for her husband Radamisto is unshakeable even though her brother-in-law Tiridate is prepared to go to any lengths to win her. But she would rather die than belong to another. Tiridate, though, tyrannises not only his family, but also his people that eventually rises up against him. It all culminates in the obligatory lieto fine, the happy ending, with Radamisto and Zenobia reunited and the chastened Tiridate returning to Polissena, his faithful wife, who tenderly forgives the philanderer despite his bad behaviour. This opera was Handel’s debut at the newly founded Royal Academy of Music in London in April 1720. He marked it with a colourful and opulently orchestrated composition containing not just dramatic passages, but also one of his most moving slow arias, the famous “Ombra cara”, “dear shadow”. Handel himself regarded this aria as one of the most beautiful he ever wrote. In 1728 he revised the opera again and put it back on the programme.