MuseData: George Frideric Handel
2.1 The Royal Academy (1719-28)
2.2 The Royal Academy (1729-34)
2.3 Covent Garden (1734-37)
Covent Garden opened at the end of 1732. Spoken plays constituted most of the repertory that the theater initially offered to the public. The idea of interleaving opera performances a few nights week created an opening for Handel. While Ariodante was taking shape, Handel composed ballet music for a revival of Il pastor fido and assembled the pastiche Oreste, both of which were performed at the theater late in 1734.
2.3.1 Ariodante (HWV 33)
Handel's Ariodante was composed between August and October 1734. It was the first new opera entirely by him to be performed at Convent Garden.
Antonio Salvi's text (then called Ginevra in Scozia) was originally composed in 1708 for a production (with music by Giacomo Perti) at Pratolino (Florence). It became better known through Carlo Francesco Pollarolo's setting (as Ariodante) for San Giovanni Grisostomo, Venice, in November 1716. It was this opera production that launched the stellar career of Faustina Bordoni, whose voice was by now celebrated throughout Europe.
Mark Stahura's 1994 edition of Ariodante, made under contract with the Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities (CCARH) in collaboration with Frances Bennion and Edmund Correia Jr., is available online. Ariodante score and parts. It is based on Handel's manuscript in the British Library.
2.3.2 Alcina (HWV 34)
2.3.3 Atalanta (HWV 35)
Handel's Atalanta was first performed on 12 May 1736. Composed one year earlier, it came to form part of a festive period immediately following the wedding of Frederick, Prince of Wales (April 27), the eldest son of King George II, to Princess Augusta of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha. The same season had begun on May 5 with a revival of Ariodante, now featuring the Italian castrato Gioacchino Conti ("Ghiziello"). Conti's range, which extended to c3, was exceptionally high and Handel exploited its capabilities. He won the great praise of Lord Shaftesbury, who immediately called him "one of the best Performers in this Kingdom". By the day before Atalanta opened Shaftsbury had come to rank Conti above Farinelli, the best known castrato of the time, for his greater agility and pitch control.
The original text of this pastorale, by Belisario Valeriani, was entitled La caccia in Etolia when it was written. Its first setting, by Fortunato Chelleri, was performed in Ferrara, 1715). The libretto formed the basis of revivals and new settings given in Modena (1716), Ravenna (1726), Florence (1727), and Vienna (1733).
Handel's autograph for Atalanta is in the British Library, with further material in the Manchester Public Library.