The Italian opera L’incoronazione di Poppea was composed by Claudio Monteverdi in 1643. It portrays a story about the Roman Emperor Nero, his lover Poppea, the empress Ottavia and Ottone, a noble lord. When the queen, due to jealousy, orders the death of Poppea through Ottone, Love protects the victim. The two conspirators are then exiled by Nero, Poppea is crowned empress and once again love reigns.
Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) was the most influential English baroque composer, together with German-born George Frederic Handel. He was born in the town of Westminster, England. He had two brothers, Edward and Daniel, the latter was a great composer as well. When he was five years old, Henry’s father died, and he went to live with his uncle.
Purcell began to compose when he was nine years old, and his first public work was an ode for the king’s birthday, which Henry composed at age eleven. After many years of experience, the Englishman composed an opera which would continue to be produced with great success centuries later: Dido and Aeneas.
Dido and Aeneas is an opera in three acts based upon Virgil’s Aeneid. It tells the story, using dramatic music and lyrics, of the beautiful Queen Dido of Carthage and the Trojan Aeneas. Dido and Aeneas fall in love when he sails to Carthage. But a sorceress, who wants to destroy Carthage and it’s queen, decides to deceive Aeneas into leaving Carthage, breaking Dido’s heart. This, she concludes, would successfully end the queen’s life and reign. Continue reading “Dido and Aeneas: An Epitome of Baroque Music”
Scherza infida, an aria from the opera Ariodante, is one of my favorite arias by Handel. It masterfully portrays the sadness and remorse of a deceived lover.
Ariodante is probably Handel’s most famous opera, along with Giulio Cesare and a few others. It is an opera seria in three acts, with music that intimately tells the tragic story. Unfortunately however, after it’s initial success (premiere in 1735 with eleven performances), Ariodante fell into obscurity Continue reading “Scherza Infida — A Handelian Masterpiece”
In George Frederic Handel’s opera Rinaldo, he puts to music a dramatic love tragedy and joyful reunion, in the setting of the early eleventh century during the first crusade. Lascia ch’io pianga is the sad aria sung by Almerina (a soprano), who is mourning for her lover, Rinaldo. Being a typical baroque aria, it is dramatic and full of vivid emotion. Continue reading “Lascia ch’io pianga — A Dramatic Aria by Handel”