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Delirio amoroso, HWV 99 (also known as Da quel giorno fatale)
Italian cantata for soprano with instruments and basso continuo
Text: Cardinal Benedetto Pamphilj
Music: Georg Friedrich Händel
Completed score: Rome, on or before January 14, 1707
First performance: at the Pamphilj palace in May 1707
Video part 1:
Video part 2:
- Recitativo: Da quel giorno fatale
- Aria: Un pensiero voli in ciel
Video part 3:
- Recitativo: Ma fermati, pensier
- Aria: Per te lasciai la luce
Video part 4:
- Recitativo: Non ti bastava, ingrato
- Aria: Lascia omai le brune vele
- Recitativo: Ma siamo giunti in Lete
Video part 5:
- Aria: In queste amene piagge serene
- Recitativo: Sì, disse Clori
- Minuet (reprise)
In this video:
Natalie Dessay, soprano
Stéphanie-Marie Degand, violin
Le Concert d'Astrée,
conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm
Recorded in 2005
Delirio amoroso was composed in 1707 for Handel's patron Benedetto Pamphilj, who also wrote the libretto texts. This extensive cantata is an evocation of hallucinatory madness in which Clori imagines she enters the realm of the dead to conduct her disdaining lover to the Elysian fields.
"Pamphilj's text for Delirio amoroso (Love's delirium) is more imaginative than most cantata texts, and inspired Handel to create some expansive and delightful music. The cantata may have been presented with a simple form of staging, as is suggested by the unusual feature of dance movements for the instruments alone. The first and last recitatives are narrations, setting and closing the scene. In between the singer impersonates the lover Chloris mourning the death of her beloved Thyrsis. Apparently he never responded to her love, so in her 'delirium' she imagines that he is being punished in hell for his cruelty. She resolves to enter the underworld herself and bring him back to life - but even in death he continues to reject her. At first she is angry, but then she decides in an act of compassion to move him from the fiery part of Hades to the Elysian Fields.The cantata begins with an orchestral Introduzione in da capo form, the lively opening section with solo oboe being repeated after a short Largo for strings alone. Chloris's first aria, with its extensive part for solo violin, is one of the most elaborate that Handel ever wrote, and he made good use of it in other works. It became the closing aria of Act 1 of his opera Rodrigo, produced in Florence in the autumn of 1707, and a more substantially revised version also appeared in the first version of Radamisto, produced in London in April 1720. The second aria, Per te lasciai, begins as a wistful minuet, but immediately broadens into a dialogue between the voice and a solo cello; in the more dramatic middle section, Chloris' pleas to Thyrsis are answered only by eloquent moments of silence. Yet another solo instrument, a recorder, appears in the next aria, from which Handel later took ideas for "Hush, ye pretty warbling choir" in Acis and Galatea and for his violin sonata in D major. The orchestral Entrée is one of the earliest known examples of Handel's borrowing from other composers: the opening bars come directly from Reinhard Keiser's opera Claudius, produced in Hamburg in 1703, where they also begin an Entrée of Spirits in the Elysian Fields; the rest of the movement comes from an earlier Entrée of Handel's own, in Act 3 of Almira, his first opera for Hamburg." - Anthony Hicks
Da quel giorno fatale
che tolse morte il crudo Tirsi a Clori,
ella per duolo immenso,
sciolto il crin, torvo il guardo,
incerto il piede, par, ch'abbia in sè
due volontà, due cori:
e del chiaro intelletto,
per gran fiamma d'amor,
turbato il raggio, ora s'adorna,
ora del crin negletto
fa dispettoso oltraggio;
e varia nel pensier, ma sempre bella,
agitata così, seco favella.
Un pensiero voli in ciel,
se in cielo è quella alma bella
che la pace m'involò.
Se in averno è condannato,
per avermi disprezzato,
io dal regno delle pene
il mio bene rapirò.
Translation (by Gwyn Morris):
From that fatal day
when Death took cruel Thyrsis from Chloris,
she, in deepest grief,
her hair flying loose, grim-faced,
unsteady on her feet, seems to have
two wills, two hearts within her;
and with the ray of clear thinking
dimmed by the great flame of love,
she first decks herself,
then makes a dire tangle
of her dishevelled hair,
and wanders in her mind, but ever fair,
so agitatedly speaks to herself.
Let a thought soar into the sky,
if in Heaven is that fair soul
which robbed me of my peace.
But if he is condemned to Hell
because he scorned me,
I from the realm of punishment
my beloved shall rescue.
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