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date: 17 August 2019

Tolomeo [Tolomeo re di Egitto (‘Ptolemy, King of Egypt’)]locked

  • Anthony Hicks

Extract

[Tolomeo re di Egitto (‘Ptolemy, King of Egypt’)]

Opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel to a libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym adapted from Carlo Sigismondo Capece’s Tolomeo et Alessandro (1711, Rome); London, King’s Theatre, 30 April 1728.

Tolomeo was Handel’s 13th and last full-length opera for the Royal Academy of Music, and the last of the five operas in which the leading female roles were designed for the rival sopranos Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni, who sang Seleuce and Elisa. The other singers were the alto castratos Senesino (Ptolemy) and Antonio Baldi (Alessandro), and the bass Giuseppe Boschi (Araspe).

Handel revived Tolomeo twice, subjecting it to drastic revision each time. For the production at the King’s Theatre on 19 May 1730 the castrato Antonio Bernacchi took over the title role and Anna Strada del Pò sang Seleuce, while the other roles were adapted for changed voices: the contraltos Antonia Merighi and Francesca Bertolli sang Elisa and Alessandro, and the tenor Annibale Pio Fabri sang Araspe. Handel replaced 12 of the original numbers (including the final ...

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