Sosarme [Sosarme, re di Media (‘Sosarmes, King of Media’)]
- Anthony Hicks
[Sosarme, re di Media (‘Sosarmes, King of Media’)]
Opera in three acts by George Frideric Handel to a libretto anonymously adapted from Antonio Salvi’s Dionisio re di Portogallo (1707, Pratolino); London, King’s Theatre, 15 February 1732.
Handel completed the score of Sosarme on 4 February 1732. His original title was Fernando re di Castiglia, and most of the first two acts were composed with the Portuguese setting (in Coimbra) and the characters of Salvi’s original libretto, among them the Portuguese king Dionysius (reigned 1279–1325), his son Alfonso IV and King Ferdinand IV of Castile (reigned 1295–1312). Presumably to avoid offence to the royal family of Portugal, Britain’s oldest ally, the setting was changed to Sardis in Lydia and the characters acquired new, fictional names: Dionysius became Haliate of Lydia, Alfonso became Argone and Ferdinand became Sosarme of Media. The other characters are Haliate’s queen, Erenice; their daughter Elmira (Argone’s sister), betrothed to Sosarme; Melo, Haliate’s illegitimate son; and Altomaro, the treacherous counsellor of Haliate. In the original run of 11 performances the cast consisted of the castratos Senesino and Campioli (Sosarme and Argone), Anna Maria Strada del Pò (Elmira), Anna Bagnolesi (Erenice), Francesca Bertolli (Melo), Giovanni Pinacci (Haliate) and Antonio Montagnana (Altomaro). The opera was very well received. Viscount Percival thought it ‘one of the best I ever heard’, and the compiler of the so-called ‘Colman Opera Register’ observed that it ‘took much’ and ‘was much crowded to some peoples admiration’. Handel revived it on ...