Opera Scotland

Pastor Fido Il Pastor Fido; The Faithful Shepherd

Music 

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

Text

Giacomo Rossi.

Source

Play by Giovanni Battista Guarini (c1584).

 

Premieres

First performance: London (Queen’s Theatre, Haymarket), 22 November 1712.

First Performance (Revision): London (King’s Theatre, Haymarket), 29 May 1734.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 3 September1974.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

 

Background

Arcadian pastoral plots concerning the loves and jealousies of shepherds and shepherdesses, and derived from earlier Italian literature, remained popular through Handel’s lifetime. They provided an effective contrast to the more dramatic scenarios he set in his other Italian operas. The first two versions of the work are radically different in musical content. He produced yet a third version on 9 November 1734. Like his great operas Ariodante and Alcina, this contained ballet music for the troupe of Marie Sallé. He also added an allegorical prologue. One feature all three versions had in common was that Handel borrowed a large number of the arias from earlier works, which worked as effectively in their new context. The version brought to Edinburgh in 1974 was a slightly shortened version of the third text, using the traditionally styled production staged at the Drottningholm Court Theatre.

 

Main Characters

Mirtillo, a shepherd of obscure origin (soprano)

Amarilli, betrothed to Silvio, but in love with Mirtillo (soprano)

Dorinda, a shepherdess, in love with Silvio (mezzo-soprano)

Silvio, betrothed to Amarilli, but dedicated to Diana (tenor)

Eurilla, a cunning nymph who secretly loves Mirtillo (mezzo-soprano)

Tirenio, High Priest (bass)

 

Plot Summary

In revenge for a slight received by one of her priests, Diana has placed a curse on Arcadia, which requires the annual sacrifice of a virgin. The only way to evade this is the arrangement of a suitable match between two individuals. The nominated pair this time is Silvio and Amarilli. But Silvio is dedicated to Diana (i.e. only interested in hunting) and Amarilli actually loves, and is loved by, Mirtillo. They meet up in a secret assignation, but are betrayed by Eurilla, who is jealous because she also loves Mirtillo. Amarilli is sentenced to death because of her failure to accept the marriage to Silvio. Meantime, Silvio, out hunting, has thrown his spear at an animal hiding in some bushes, only to find that he has speared Dorinda (who already loves him, though this would not seem the best way to maintain her affections). Silvio, for the first time, feels the pains of love developing. As sentence is about to be carried out on Amarilli, Mirtillo volunteers to be sacrificed instead, since they are faithful to one another. The high priest now reveals that this sign of good faith from a shepherd has appeased Diana, and the curse is brought to an end. Two weddings follow, and Eurilla’s behaviour is forgiven.

The Cast

Amarilli
 betrothed to Silvio, but in love with Mirtillo
Apollo
 
Bacchus
 
Dorinda
 a shepherdess, in love with Silvio
Erato
 
Eurilla
 a cunning nymph, who secretly loves Mirtillo
Mirtillo
 a shepherd of obscure origin
Silvio
 betrothed to Amarilli, but dedicated to Diana
Tirenio
 a High Priest

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