Opera in three acts (1707)
Music by Georg Friedrich Händel
Libretto after by Francesco Silvani
Opera in concert in Italian
Friday, 20 December 2019, 7 pm
To Overcome Oneself Is The Greater Victory is the original title of Handel’s first opera, Rodrigo. King Rodrigo of Spain has a jealous wife, Esilena, and a vengeful former mistress, Florinda, who has a son by him. The former fights ceaselessly for his love and conjugal harmony, while the latter has found the perfect allies to attack her ex-lover in her brother Giuliano and Rodrigo’s enemy Evanco. Florinda wants to kill Rodrigo by herself with a sword. It is Esilena who throws herself between the two at the last moment – with Florinda’s son in her arms. And Florinda drops the sword, the love for her child overcoming her rage... Brief biographies of Handel generally begin in 1709 with his first success, Agrippina, which earned him his first invitation to England. The years 1710, the year of his arrival in London, and 1711 with his sensational debut opera Rinaldo, are cited as the start of his incomparable career. Records of the study trip he made to Italy before then are sketchy and so the composition history of Rodrigo is also unclear. It has only been research and discoveries since the 1970s that have filled some of the gaps and enabled a first revival at the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music in 1984.