Opera Scotland

Partenope Parthenope

Music

George Frideric Handel (born Halle, 23 February 1685; died London, 14 April 1759)

Text

Anon.

Source

Libretto La Partenope by Silvio Stampiglia (1699), set by Luigi Mancia and by Antonio Caldara.

 

Premieres 

First performance: London (King's Theatre, Haymarket), 24 February 1730.

First performance in Scotland: Ledlanet, Kinross-shire, 30 September 1965.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

 

Background

It is likely that Handel would have seen Caldara’s setting of Partenope during his stay in Venice in 1707. The plot is based on ancient legend, and while the characters are all extremely serious, with proper emotions, there is always a sense of humour not far away - even the battle and the threatened fights are handled with a lightness of touch.

 

Characters

Partenope, Queen of Partenope, now Naples (soprano)

Emilio, Prince of Cuma (tenor)

Armindo, Prince of Rhodes (contralto)

Ormonte, Captain of Partenope’s Guard (bass)

Rosmira, Princess of Cyprus (contralto)

Arsace, Prince of Corinth (alto)

 

Plot Summary

Arsace, Armindo, and Emilio are all suitors for the hand of Partenope, Queen of Naples. Rosmira, abandoned by Arsace, has followed him, disguised as a soldier, Eurimene. Having found Arsace, she accuses him of faithlessness, and now puts herself, or at least Eurimene, forward as a fourth suitor for Partenope. The queen now announces that her choice is Arsace. At this, Emilio orders his troops to attack the city. Partenope decides to lead her troops herself and in the ensuing battle she is victorious and Emilio captured. A dispute arises as to who actually captured Emilio. He says it was Arsace, but Eurimene also claims the credit. This last claim is rejected, and after an intercession by Arsace on his behalf, Eurimene is ordered to leave the city. Eurimene now declares that he was acting on behalf of a Cypriot princess who had been betrayed by Arsace, and Arsace himself confirms this story. Partenope elects to marry Armindo, and the dispute between Arsace and Eurimene is to be settled by single combat. Arsace, well aware of who Eurimene really is, elects to fight bare-chested. His opponent is therefore obliged to reveal her true identity, and Arsace and Rosmira are reconciled.

The Cast

Armindo
 Prince of Rhodes
Arsace
 Prince of Corinth
Emilio
 Prince of Cuma
Ormonte
 Captain of Partenope's Guards
Partenope
 Queen of Partenope (Naples)
Rosmira
 Princess of Cyprus

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