MuseData: George Frideric Handel
The Royal Academy (1719-28)
The Royal Academy (1729-34)
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.
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.
Alcina (HWV 34)
Atalanta (HWV 35)
Handel's Atalanta was first performed on 12 May 1736. Composed one year earlier, it came to form part of the short season immediately following the wedding of Frederick, Prince of Wales (April 27). The same season had begun with a revival of Ariodante, now featuring the Italian castrato Gioachino Conti, who introduced "suitcase" arias from other works in which he had recently appeared.
Handel's autograph for Atalanta is in the British Library, with further material in the Manchester Public Library.
The text of this pastorale, by Belisario Valeriani, was entitled La caccia in Etolia when it was first written (for the setting by Fortunato Chelleri[] performed in Ferrara, 1715). The libretto was sufficiently popular that formed the basis of revivals and new settings given in Modena (1716), Ravenna (1726), Florence (1727), and Vienna (1733).