"Dove sei, amato bene?"
Rodelinda, re de' Longobardi, HWV 19
In this recording:
"Arias for Senesino"
Academia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone
"Rodelinda, regina de' Longobardi" (HWV 19) is an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel. It was based on a libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym, in turn based on an earlier libretto by Antonio Salvi. Salvi's libretto originated with Pierre Corneille's play "Pertharite, roi des Lombards".
It was first performed at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket, London, on 13 February 1725. It was produced with the same singers as Tamerlano. There were 14 performances and it was repeated on 18 December 1725, and again on 4 May 1731. It was also performed in Hamburg. The first modern production was in Göttingen on 26 June 1920.
Premiere Cast, February 13, 1725
(Conductor: - )
Rodelinda, Queen of Longobardi: (soprano) Francesca Cuzzoni
Bertarido, King of Longobardi: (alto castrato) Senesino
Grimoaldo, Duke of Benevento: (tenor) Francesco Borosini
Eduige, Bertarido's sister: (alto) Anna Vicenza Dotti
Unulfo, Bertarido's friend and counsellor: (alto castrato) Andrea Pacini
Garibaldo, Grimoaldo's counsellor, duke of Turin: (bass) Giuseppe Maria Boschi
In the Royal Palace in Milan, Rodelinda, wife of the King Bertarido, presumed dead in an invasion by the usurper Grimoaldo, laments the loss of her husband and kingdom. Grimoaldo arrives with his henchman Garibaldo to seek her hand, but the proud queen declares that the man who has robbed her of all she held dear will never buy her love. When she leaves, Grimoaldo complains to Garibaldo that his peace is disturbed equally by Rodelinda's scorn and by the anger of Bertarido's sister, Eduige, to whom he is betrothed. She enters to remind him of his vow and proposes that they reign as regents until Bertarido's son, Flavio, comes of age, but Grimoaldo gloats that as she once spurned him, he now spurns her. When he departs, Eduige turns her wiles on Garibaldo, offering herself to him if he will oblige Grimoaldo to kneel before her. Alone, Garibaldo muses that he will use the art of love to win the throne.
In fact, Bertarido is alive; disguised as a Hun, has given out word of his death to buy time to win back his kingdom. In a cypress grove, he ponders the vain pomp of his newly erected tomb, longing for comfort from his beloved wife (Dove sei, amato bene?).
Pompe vane di morte!
Menzogne di dolor, che riserbate
il mio volto e 'l mio nome, ed adulate
del vincitor superbo il genio altiero!
Voi dite, ch'io son morto;
ma risponde il mio duol, che non è vero.
"Bertarido fu Re; da Grimoaldo
vinto fuggì, presso degli Unni giace.
Abbia l'alma riposo, e 'l cener pace."
Pace al cener mio? Astri tiranni!
Dunque fin ch'avrò vita,
guerra avrò con gli stenti, e con gli affanni.
Dove sei, amato bene?
Vieni, l'alma a consolar.
Sono oppresso da' tormenti
ed i crudeli miei lamenti
sol con te posso bear.
Translation: (by Kenneth Chalmers)
The hollow splendour of death!
This sham of grief preserves
my name and likeness, and yet flatters
the pride of the haughty victor!
You say that I am dead,
but my grief replies that it is not so.
(reading the inscription:)
'Bertarido was king. Defeated by Grimoaldo,
he fled and now lies near the Huns.
May his soul find rest and his ashes peace.'
Peace for my ashes? The tyranny of fortune!
So long as I live
I shall be fighting hardship and distress.
Where are you, my beloved?
Come and comfort my heart.
I am stricken with anguish
and only by your side
can my cruel sorrow be lightened