- Anthony Hicks
Opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel to a libretto by Paolo Antonio Rolli based on Antonio Salvi’s Publio Cornelio Scipione (1704, Livorno), after Livy, Historiarum ab urbe condita, xxvi, 50; London, King’s Theatre, 12 March 1726.
Scipione was Handel’s eighth full-length opera for the Royal Academy of Music. There were 13 performances in the first run, with a cast consisting of the castratos Senesino and Antonio Baldi (Luceio [Luceius] and Scipio), the sopranos Francesca Cuzzoni and Livia Costantini (Berenice and Armira), the tenor Luigi Antinori (Lelio [Laelius]) and the bass Giuseppe Boschi (Ernando). The opera was written in unusual haste; Handel completed the score only ten days before the first performance, having taken – according to the librettist, Rolli – just three weeks to compose the music; signs of hurry are occasionally apparent both in the music (the overture borrows from two of Handel’s recorder sonatas) and the libretto (the last recitative repeats the words of an earlier aria). Handel’s original intention had been to produce ...