Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Handel's Texts


This paper gives, I hope, a full sense of my research interests in Handel, eighteenth-century opera, and the musical adaptation of literary source material. There are three main aspects of this research:

  1. Research into the history of opera – particularly Italian opera – in its period of greatest influence on British cultural life, from 1700-1750.
  2. The critical analysis and appraisal of the creative process of adapting literary texts to music in the (English) oratorios and (Italian) operas of the period (mainly with reference to the works of Handel).
  3. Research into the creation of the libretti for the operas and oratorios of Handel, with investigative research into the source material and a consideration of the process of collaboration between composer and librettist.

A Research Paper

Handel is one of the greatest of all musical illustrators. Whether he is setting the scene - with storms, streams or birdsong (and he can do a whole parliament of birds, including cuckoos, nightingales and doves); or evoking textual details, so that (to recall examples from The Messiah) ‘the crooked’ is made ‘straight’ the ‘rough places’ become plain, and the trumpet does indeed sound its glorious resurrection –he has absolute mastery of Alexander Pope’s rule that ‘the sound must seem an echo to the sense’.

Indispensable though this skill is, more important is Handel’s ability to respond to the dramatic potential of his texts, to represent musically the moments of action and emotion, passion and revelation that make his operas and oratorios so powerful.

I want to illustrate this point by showing his flexible and imaginative approach to conventional baroque forms, taking as the example his use of ternary form in the da capo aria, in both Italian (here I will elaborate on the context for the performing of Italian opera in England) and in English.

Moving on from single arias, I then want to look at his creation of whole dramatic episodes, and consider his collaboration with librettists. Finally, taking the text for his last great oratorio – Jephtha – I want to show that the contribution of some of these librettists has been significantly underestimated.

As a preliminary note to the discussion, I ought to start by stressing that Handel, until about twenty-five years ago famed almost exclusively for his English oratorios, was first and foremost a composer of Italian operas, and rather unwillingly turned to oratorios after a series of setbacks, failures and rivalries in the opera houses. Handel wrote at least 38 Italian operas, all but two of which were composed for the London stages: it’s in the secular Italian operas that Handel developed all the skills that would prove so successful in the biblical English oratorios.

The two main units of composition in opera seria (literally 'serious' opera) are the aria and the recitative. Broadly speaking, recitative (or ‘recitativo’) is sung speech conveying the main actions and developments of plot through soliloquy or exchanges between characters. It can be supported merely by a line of  'continuo' (a simple bass line usually played alone on the harpsichord), known as secco ('dry') recitative, or by more elaborate orchestration known as accompagnato ('accompanied') recitative. The recitative links together the arias ('airs' or 'songs') whose form is equally standardised. In an aria the first section of singing (the 'A' section), is introduced by an orchestral ritornello (so called because it keeps ‘returning’), and followed by a contrasting or complementary development (the 'B' section), which returns da capo (we would say ‘from the top’) to the beginning and repeats the 'A' section (where the singer can show off tastefully by improvised variation). I’ve illustrated the structure for you diagrammatically in Figure 1, and I’ve taken as a musical example the aria ‘Molto voglio, molto spero’ from Handel’s 1711 opera Rinaldo . (Here, the dangerous sorceress Armida is joyously confident of her ‘great hopes’ and ‘great desires’ as ‘with her power’ (‘Di mia forza’ introducing the ‘B’ section) she can ‘subdue the world’).

[PLAY MOLTO VOGLIO; RINALDO, DISK 1, INDEX 17 – and draw attention to the features of the structure as they occur (2 minutes, 44 seconds)]

It’s worth pausing here, for a moment, to consider the importance of the opera which includes this aria. Rinaldo was Handel’s first Italian opera for the English stage. As such it is of enormous importance, and was to shape the rest of Handel’s career. But it also contributed to a literary controversy which had already been running for many years.

The 'stage' had been set as early as 1706 with John Dennis's ludicrous and xenophobic attack against Italian opera: 'a Diversion of more pernicious consequence, than the most licentious Play that ever has appear'd upon the Stage'.  His arguments are absurd, but certainly express a rich vein of anti-culture typical of the worst kind of provincial Englishness. 'Pleasure of Sense,' argues Dennis 'being too much indulged, makes Reason cease to be a Pleasure, and by consequence is contrary both to publick and private Duty'. The pleasures of Italian opera were too great for Dennis, offering, particularly, a threat to all young ladies, in its celebration of love and all its arts. French music is less a danger as it is 'by no means so meltingly moving as the Italian'. It's ironically amusing that such a silly and vituperative polemic should so manifestly reveal the intensity of the sensuous pleasures of Italian opera. But Dennis's real grouse seems to be that Italian opera is effeminate and foreign: 'the Reigning Luxury of Modern Italy, is that soft and effeminate Musick which abounds in the Italian Opera'. And the English, of all people, should least appreciate such entertainments:

What must those Strangers say, when they behold Englishmen applaud an Italian for Singing, or a Frenchman for Dancing, and the very Moment afterwards explode an Englishman for the very same things? What must they say, unless they have Candour enough to interpret it this way, that an Englishman is deservedly scorned by Englishmen, when he descends so far beneath himself, as to Sing or to Dance in publick, because by doing so he practises Arts which Nature has bestow'd upon effeminate Nations, but denied to him, as below the Dignity of his Country, and the Majesty of the British Genius.

Actually, at least one of Dennis's objections should have been met by Handel's arrival ('But yet this must be allow'd, that tho' the Opera in Italy is a Monster, 'tis a beautiful harmonious Monster, but here in England 'tis an ugly howling one'). But Handel's enterprise, in 1711, had more formidable literary arguments to overcome than from this raving nonsense. Rinaldo, like the operas which immediately preceded it, was attacked in the influential Spectator by Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, much more formidable literary enemies than John Dennis. There may, though, have been an element of hubris in the Spectator's attacks, especially in Addison's emphasis on the absurdities of the Italian elements of the opera. Addison himself was the English librettist of the failed opera Rosamund, composed by the dire musician, Thomas Clayton, and staged in 1707, the production being dropped after a dismal three performances.

The Spectator's pillory was certainly a concerted attempt to discredit the Italian operas. Five numbers (5; 13; 14; 18; and 29) gave over their space to the ridicule of the increasingly popular new form, over a period of less than one month from March 6th to April 3rd, 1711. And though the sophistication of the critique offered here is incomparable with Dennis's clumsy, ill-conceived onslaught, there is still the condescending assumption that the English should have higher pleasures than the mere continentals:

If the Italians have a Genius for Musick above the English, the English have a Genius for other Performances of a much higher Nature, and capable of giving the Mind a much nobler Entertainment.

The criticism of the use of Italian sources is interesting, as it reveals, aptly, the absurdities of the period preceding Handel's Rinaldo. Previous operas had been ‘pasticcios’ (literally ‘pasties’ [with any old meat in them], metaphorically a ‘mess’) gathered together from a range of Italian sources Some of these were sung in Italian but others were productions in both languages. The Spectator ridicules the absurdities of translation from the Italian which does not match the music:

I have known the Word And pursu'd through the whole Gamut, have been entertain'd with many a melodious The, and have heard the most beautiful Graces, Quavers and Divisions bestow'd upon Then, For, and From; to the eternal Honour of our English Particles.

The macaronic use of both languages in the same opera was a manifestly unsatisfactory compromise, allowing Addison many further strokes of wit: 'The King or Hero of the Play generally spoke in Italian, and his Slaves answer'd him in English'.

With Handel's Rinaldo, though, as with  Teseo (1713) and Amadigi (1715), his other 'magic operas' (so called because they both have a sorceress who conjures up all kinds of visions and monsters), audiences could enjoy Italian opera without the absurdity of different languages, and with state of the art special effects, both in the music and in the production. Rinaldo calls for two chariots, one drawn by white horses and blackamoors, the other drawn by two dragons issuing fire and smoke; furies and dreadful monsters (more fire and smoke); a delightful grove with singing birds in the trees; singing and dancing mermaids; a dreadful mountain prospect; an enchanted palace; a magician's cave; ugly enchanted spirits; and plentiful supplies of thunder, lightning and 'amazing noises'. Not all this was possible -  Steele notes that the horses drawing the chariot never appeared - but as much as was possible was done. Addison ridiculed the whole enterprize in the issue of March 6th. Especially ludicrous to him seemed the provision of real birds for the delightful grove:

As I was walking in the Streets about a Fortnight ago, I saw an ordinary Fellow carrying a Cage full of little Birds upon his Shoulder; and, as I was wondering with my self what Use he would put them to, he was met very luckily by an Acquaintance, who had the same Curiosity. Upon his asking him what he had upon his Shoulder, he told him, that he had been buying Sparrows for the Opera. Sparrows for the Opera, says his Friend, licking his Lips, what are they to be roasted? No, no, says the other, they are to enter towards the end  of the first Act, and to fly about the Stage.

For all Addison's humour here and elsewhere, his descriptions do suggest the excitement of these productions: 'Rinaldo is filled with Thunder and Lightning, Illuminations, and Fireworks'. Some self-appointed proprietors of eighteenth-century taste may have scorned such entertainments, but the opera public loved them. Rinaldo was one of the greatest successes of the period. The publication of its songs alone was reputed to have made their publisher fifteen hundred pounds. As Christopher Hogwood notes, Rinaldo 'can be said to have settled the course of Handel's career and the future of opera in England'. In a sense the number of issues devoted by the Spectator to the mockery of Italian opera is a testament to the futility of its arguments. The thirst for Italian opera was already established before the Spectator's first issue. Handel, after the famous opera successes of Rodrigo (1707) and Agrippina (1710) in Italy, visited a London already predisposed to the success of Rinaldo.

Back, though, to the conventional form of the da capo aria ...

I want to show that Handel’s treatment of this ubiquitous standardised form can be anything but conventional, when it suits the dramatic situation of the text to vary the normal musical structures.

Look, for instance, how Handel motivates the standard element of repetition in an aria from Rodelinda (1725). (See Figure 2.)

Here, Handel wants to illustrate the situation of Bertarido, the opera’s hero – supposed dead, deprived of his kingdom, wrongly believing his wife unfaithful, taking melancholy solace from the beauty of a pastoral landscape. The hero sings ‘Con rauco mormorio’, a perfect aria of sublime mood and atmosphere, as the libretto’s landscape, the murmurings of its streams and springs sigh, in pathetic fallacy, with the hero, the now instrumental caves and hills ‘echoing’ his plaintive voice. Dean and Knapp called the piece ‘a magical exercise in nature-painting’. Here, then, are all those skills of the inspired illustrator (where even the echoes echo the sense).  But the aria also contributes to the drama of the situation. Bertarido’s sister, Eduige, is nearby, and his singing draws her. As the singer brings the ‘B’ section of the aria to a close, the music is interrupted – instead of the typical ritornello, we have a recitative interruption, as Eduige recognises the voice. Surely, she says, this cannot be the voice of her late brother; surely she is deluded. Handel can now motivate dramatically the traditional form of the aria: Bertarido has to repeat his first melody; he does so immediately and his identification is confirmed. What is merely a requirement of convention – the repeat of the ‘A’ section of an aria – becomes a full part of the action. In Handel’s best writing for the stage he doesn’t just make old things new; he completely integrates form and content, so that the words motivate the musical structures or demand their variation or fracture.

A similar, though expanded, device is used in Giulio Cesare. 'V'adoro pupille' is perhaps the greatest seduction aria in musical history (See Figure 3.). It has the equivalent force of Enobarbus's famous speech in Antony and Cleopatra:

The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne
Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd all description [...]

Shakespeare, here, follows his source, North's Plutarch very closely. But Plutarch gives an additional detail: 'her voyce and words were marvelous pleasant: for her tongue was an instrument of musicke to divers sports and pastimes'. Shakespeare also economises on the music that attends her. His 'tune of flutes' is based on Plutarch's  'sounde of the musicke of flutes, howboyes, citherns, violls, and such other instruments as they played upon in the barge'. Cleopatra's legendary power is one naturally expressed by the metonym and metaphor of music. In Handel's score it is her song that seduces Caesar. And Handel overtrumps Plutarch with his instruments, as Winton Dean notes:

Handel deploys a double orchestra: a group of nine instruments played by the nine Muses on stage or behind the scenes, including harp, theorbo and viola da gamba, is contrasted and combined with the main body in the pit, the violins of both orchestras being muted. The senses of the audience must have been as ravished as Caesar's.

But it’s the structural variation that helps create the drama of the scene. Instead of the normal ritornello introduction, Handel gives two miniature symphonies, which are interrupted by Caesar and Nireno, who are astonished at the heavenly beauty of the sound and wonder what its source can be. Cue Cleopatra who moves straight into the aria based on the symphonic melody. Caesar again cannot resist interrupting the aria after the ‘B’ section – ‘not even in heaven could there be such a beautiful song’ ... and to confirm that, Cleopatra sings it again!

[PLAY ‘V’ADORO PUPILLE’; GIULIO CESARE , DISK 2, INDEXES 5-6  (9 minutes, 45 seconds)]

There are many other variations that involve the embellishment or omission of some part of the normal structure for dramatic effect. In Handel’s first Royal Academy opera, Radamisto, the characterization of Polissena is partly shaped by omission. (See Figure 4.)  This loving and duteous wife of a tyrannical and unfaithful husband is more than once shocked out of conventional form by his sudden barbarity. At the beginning of the opera, whilst pleading for mercy for her brother and father, she is abruptly dismissed, prompting a poignant aria of lament: 'Tu vuoi ch'io parta'' (You wish me to go, I go'). Here the urgency of the situation  and the plight of Polissena leave no room for the embellishment of an opening ritornello: Polissena sings directly, spontaneously, and with humility from the heart (she will go as ordered, but ‘senza core’). The ritornello is effectively displaced and redefined: it can’t initially ‘return’ but acts as a coda of sad reflection.

To take a different, but related, example from the English oratorios, the scene in the Cave of Somnus, the God of Sleep (from Semele) is a dramatic tour de force. (See Figure 5.) An opening symphony - larghetto e piano per tutto – has a ponderous bassoon line perfectly suggestive of the steady breathing of slumber. It is rudely followed by the allegro e forte introduction of Juno and Iris: “Somnus, awake”. The God of Sleep’s response is the inspired “Leave me loathsome light” with its dramatic failure of da capo form - Somnus can just about make it through the first section of the air, and he even manages the B Section, but the A Section reprise is beyond him. True to his name, he nods off, showing a shocking disrespect for the proprieties of conventional composition! Juno manages to wake him with the enticing prospect of Pasithea, at which point he comes (literally) to his senses with “More sweet is that name/ Than a soft purling stream”. And this perfect mini-drama directly relates to the urgency of plot. Somnus must be woken if Juno’s plans for Semele’s undoing are to succeed.

This is another key factor in Handel’s skill with his texts – the creating of sustained passages of drama. The typical pattern of recitative / aria / recitative might not seem to lend itself to through composition, but it often does in Handel.

Those who wrote best for Handel - such as the oratorio librettist Charles Jennens - absolutely understood this essentially dramatic quality of his way with words. Handel was clearly inspired, for instance, by Jennens’ brilliant libretto for Saul. Winton Dean, whose seminal works on the operas and oratorios give his judgements a special place in Handel criticism, notes that Jennens:
understood the nature of Handel’s genius a great deal better than his critics [...] giving him not a prize poem or a devotional cantata, still less a liturgical text, but a fully organised drama conceived in terms of the visual theatre [...]’ To look at what Handel did with the libretto is to find a composer who completely understands, and can completely realise in musical terms, the power of a great dramatic text.

To take perhaps the best example, there is the crucial episode in Act I that culminates in Saul’s aria of jealous vengeance against David – ‘With rage I shall burst’ (see Figure 6.).  The aria itself actually confirms the influence of opera material: it’s a borrowing from Handel’s own Agrippina of 1709. But whereas the original version is no more than a coda to an extended piece of recitative narrative, the revised version for Saul is the culmination of a compelling and intense sequence of textual and musical events. The sequence starts with a symphony for carillon, a remarkable instrument that left Jennens somewhat dumbfounded:

Mr Handel’s head is more full of Maggots than ever: I found yesterday in his room a very queer Instrument which He calls Carillon (Anglice a bell) & says some call it a Tubalcain, I suppose because it is both in the make & tone like a set of Hammers striking upon Anvils. ‘Tis play’d upon with Keys like a Harpsichord, & with this Cyclopean Instrument he designs to make poor Saul stark mad. (Quoted Burrows, p.202)

Despite the hint that Jennens thinks Handel himself quite mad, it’s clear that even he imagines such an instrument of giant smithies might have the desired effect. With the symphony comes the announcement of the daughters of the land, playing music, dancing and singing in celebration of the victory over the Philistines. Even this narrative introduction is, in the original manuscript, accompanied by the carillon (its insistence, perhaps, already beginning to get at Saul, who knows that David is more the subject of celebration than himself).  The chorus welcomes the heroes, but, with unwise favouritism, names David first. In the rise and fateful fall of an accompanied recitative, Saul interrupts the celebrations: ‘[has he] then sunk so low/ To have this upstart boy preferred to [him]’. Back come the choir with more ecstatic and elaborate carillon to praise David’s ‘ten thousand’ slain. Saul can restrain himself no more, and his final interruption (‘To him ten thousands and to me but thousand’) announces his aria of rage. The whole sequence is a masterpiece of sustained musical drama. From celebration to the point of doom the music explains, with absolute conviction, Saul’s descent. And the carillon has indeed helped drive him ‘stark mad’.

[PLAY SAUL SEQUENCE , DISK 1, INDEXES 16 (c. 5 minutes)]

If Jennens had little say about the carillon, he had a significant say about other aspects of the composition:

His third Maggot is a Hallelujah which he has trump’d up at the end of his Oratorio [...] because he thought the conclusion of the Oratorio not Grand enough; [...] but this Hallelujah, Grand as it is, comes in very nonsensically, having no manner of relation to what goes before. And this is the more extraordinary, because he refus’d to set a Hallelujah at the end of the first Chorus of the Oratorio, where I had plac’d one & where it was to be introduc’d with the utmost propriety [...]

Handel got the point, and took Jennens’ advice, restoring the Hallelujah to the first scene celebrations of victory over Goliath. An uneasy alliance though it may have been, such a detail shows the work with Jennens to be a genuinely collaborative affair.  Though Jennens expected further maggots to ‘breed in [Handel’s] Brain’, together they overcame any differences to create a true masterpiece.

This relationship was perhaps unusual, but I think the degree of collaboration between Handel and his librettists – particularly over textual details - has often been underestimated.

Also underestimated have been the skills of some of these librettists. We are fortunate that Handel was able to work with as talented a writer as Jennens. But others deserve more acknowledgement. Take Thomas Morell’s libretto for Jephtha. Morell has been seen merely as an ‘anthologist’ for his assemblage, here, of quotations from an impressive range of English poets (particularly Milton). But if Jephtha is a literary anthology it is an extremely knowing one, with its passages and echoes chosen to bring a thematic and artistic unity to the subject.

Handel was certainly inspired by the text for his last major composition, as his contemporaries noted. William Hayes, Professor of Music at Oxford, saw Jephtha as indisputable proof of the continued mastery of Handel ‘who [...] with a broken Constitution’ had ‘produced such a Composition which no Man [...] is, or ever was [...] equal to, in his highest Vigour’.

Though Handel’s constitution wasn't exactly broken it was certainly breaking. He had had to stop work on the piece in 1751, scribbling in the margin of the manuscript (in German): ‘got as far as this on [...] 13th February 1751, unable to go on owing to weakening of the sight of my left eye’. Handel's response to illness was always proactive, but, despite dangerous and unpleasant surgery (involving the piercing of the cornea with a needle) and visits to spa waters, his sight was not fully to recover and he was to end his years in increasing blindness. Handel's first biographer, John Mainwaring, suggested that this loss of sight brought with it a natural depression: ‘This misfortune sunk him for a time into the deepest despondency. He could not rest until he had undergone some operations as fruitless as they were painful.’

In these circumstances, the text of Jephtha must have had a special private significance for Handel, surely understood by his librettist. How apt that Handel's last great work, composed despite intermittent bouts of blindness, should have darkness as one of its central unifying motifs, in a system of images which finds its emotional climax in one of Handel's greatest choruses – 'How dark, O Lord, are thy Decrees'. And it was at this point in the manuscript that Handel wrote his note about his worsening sight. How dark indeed.

The composer's treatment of that great chorus gives a clear sense that Handel, touched perhaps by the personal relevance of its message, and impressed by its sense of doom and fatalism, conjured a profoundly moving and tragic utterance. The crucial last line ‘Whatever is, is right’  is from Pope's Essay on Man. Originally, in fact, Morell had written ‘What God ordains is right’ but Handel preferred a direct quotation and inserted his correction throughout the manuscript.  Though Pope was vindicating ‘the ways of God to Man’, Handel creates a dark and imposing expression of our helplessness before fate. The thought that God might have a plan for us which includes the sacrifice of our only child, makes right a matter of power not justice. Our blindness leads us to anything but happy complacency. The message could hardly be missed by Handel, trying to compose what would be his last great work, marking his blindness in the margin of a manuscript whose subject is the darkness of the Lord's decrees.

But Morell was doing more than finding fine and apt lines for his text from the acknowledged literary greats. He was also researching the subject of the biblical story - the sacrifice of a child; the death of a daughter - in poetic and classical analogues (a project perfectly suited to his combination of skills as classicist, literary scholar, and biblical exegete). For some time it was believed that the words for the air 'Open thy marble Jaws, O Tomb' had been privately contributed. But the original source, which I unearthed, is much more interesting. Here is Morell's passage:

Open thy marble Jaws, O Tomb,
And hide me, Earth, in thy dark Womb:
Ere I the Name of Father stain,
And deepest Woe from Conquest gain.

And here is the direct source:

Open thy marble Jaws, O Tomb,
Thou Earth conceal me in thy Womb!

These lines are found in William Broome's 1727 Poems on Several Occasions. But the context  is more interesting than the mere fact of the borrowing. The poem that Morell went to in that volume was entitled 'Melancholy: An Ode, Occasion'd by the Death of a beloved Daughter, 1723'. There is clearly a thematic method behind the borrowings. Just as Morell was sustaining  the symbolic theme of 'darkness' (‘hide me, Earth, in thy dark Womb’), so he also looked for materials in keeping with the concern of the biblical story - a story about the possible sacrifice of a child, as lamented by the parent. It must have been this theme, with the added aptness of the sense of parental responsibility, which sent him to the period's favourite translation of Virgil's Aeneid. Again the relevant passage from Morell was thought to have been provided privately; here are Morell's words:

         Some dire Event hangs o'er our Heads,
Some woful Song we have to sing
In Misery extreme. --- O, never, never
Was my foreboding Mind distress’d before
With such incessant Pangs. ---

And here’s what I think is the probable source, from the tenth book of Virgil, translated by Dryden:

Far off he heard their cries, far off divined
The dire event with a foreboding mind.

That this echo should have occurred to Morell confirms our sense of his method. The context is the death of a son – Lausus – who has sacrificed himself in battle with Aeneas to save his stricken father. ‘His father (now no father)’ has reached the Tiber for relief, only to have the corpse of his son brought to him, prompting the lines that Morell echoes.  The situation has obvious and ironic correspondences with the story of Jephtha, where the warrior is preserved in battle only to find that his oath must mean the doom of his daughter.

We can begin then, in examining possible sources for Jephtha, to construct the practice of its librettist - in the imaginative knitting together of quotations from sources which thematically or symbolically have some affinity.

The librettists of the various works here considered, all brought their own particular skills to bear on the creation of texts that interested and excited Handel, and we mustn’t underplay their contribution. In the end, though, it’s Handel’s special ability to actualise the words on the page that really matters. Whether in masterful single arias and choruses or in compelling sequences of musical action and reaction, it’s Handel’s ability to bring scenes and episodes to dramatic life that make this two-hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his death such an important occasion for lovers of opera and oratorio.

Figure 1. Typical structure (example ‘Molto voglio, molto spero’ (Rinaldo, 1711))

First Phase (‘A’ Section)
Second Phase
Third Phase (= first phase ‘da capo’)
vocal ‘A’ section1

‘B’ section
vocal ‘A’ section2 with improvisation

Figure 2. Structure of ‘Con rauco mormorio’ (Rodelinda, 1725)

First Phase (‘A’ Section)
Second Phase
recitative interruption by Eduige
Third Phase
vocal ‘A’ section1
‘B’ section
vocal ‘A’ section2 with improvisation

Figure 3. Structure of ‘V’adoro, pupille’ (Giulio Cesare, 1724)

First Phase
Second Phase
recitative interruption
by Giulio Cesare
Third Phase
2 symphonies, with recitative interruptions
vocal ‘A’ section1
ritornello1 (based on the melodic line)
‘B’ section
vocal ‘A’ section2 with improvisation

Figure 4. Structure of ‘Tu vuoi ch’io parta’ (Radamisto, 1720)

First Phase (‘A’ Section)
Second Phase
Third Phase (= first phase ‘da capo’)
vocal ‘A’ section1
‘B’ section
vocal ‘A’ section2 with improvisation

 Figure 5. Structure of ‘Leave me loathsome light’ (Semele, 1743)                          

First Phase (‘A’ Section)
Second Phase
Third Phase
vocal ‘A’ section1
‘B’ section
Somnus has fallen asleep

Figure 6. Structure of Act I, Scenes ii- iii of Saul

Phase 1
Phase 2
Phase 3
Phase 4
Phase 5
Phase 6
Phase 7
Michal – on
‘the daughters
of the land’,
who can be seen
in ‘joyful dance with instruments of music’.
carillon - celebrating the ‘mighty king’ who slew ‘thousands’ and the [mightier] David who slew ten thousand and deserves ‘ten thousand praises’.
Saul –
‘What do I hear? Am I then sunk so low to have this upstart boy preferred to me?’

with carillon –
David who slew ten thousand deserves ten thousand praises (again).
Saul –
‘To him ten thousands and to me but thousands! What can they give him more, except my kingdom?’
Saul –
‘With rage I shall burst his praises to hear!’

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