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date: 15 November 2019

Pastor fido, Il (‘The Faithful Shepherd’)locked

  • Anthony Hicks

Extract

(‘The Faithful Shepherd’)

Opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel to a libretto by Giacomo Rossi after the play by Battista Guarini ; London, Queen’s Theatre, 22 November 1712 (second version, with added choruses, London, King’s Theatre, 18 May 1734; third version, with prologue Terpsicore and added dances, London, Covent Garden Theatre, 9 November 1734).

Rossi’s libretto is a drastic condensation of Guarini’s famous pastoral play of 1585, most of the background to the story and its final resolution remaining unexplained though some material is added. (Eurilla corresponds to Corisca in the play.) Handel made further cuts by omitting several lines printed in the wordbook, but the recitatives still contain just enough information to set the context for each aria. The roles of Mirtillo and Silvio were originally sung by castratos (Valeriano Pellegrini and Valentino Urbani). Il pastor fido was Handel’s second opera for London, and, coming after the brilliant Rinaldo, was a disappointment to contemporary audiences; a diarist commented that ‘the scene represented only the Country of Arcadia; the Habits [costumes] were old – the Opera short’. After six performances it was replaced with a pasticcio (...

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