“Almira”, Handel’s first opera, was well received when premiered in 1705 at the Theater am Gänsemarkt in Hamburg. The director was Reinhard Keiser, who, remarkably, had himself already set Friedrich Christian Feustking’s text to music. The role of Fernando was sung by Johann Mattheson. The translation used by Handel leaves several Italian arias in their original language, resulting in a delightful mixture of German and Italian.
The opera which, after sundry entangled romances, ends in the wedding of three couples, is characterised by exuberant scenes: the procession at Almira’s crowning ceremony, a duel, a prison scene and a masked-ball involving the three continents Europe, Africa and Asia.
The vocal score to “Almira” by George Frideric Handel brings about a small sensation: Whilst conducting a reenactment of this work in 1732, Georg Philipp Telemann removed the Aria no. 28 “Ingrato, spietato” from his conducting score. Since then this aria has been deemed lost. Due to necessity only the edited vocal text devoid of any music was presented in the 1994 volume of the “Halle Handel Edition”.
Thanks to a recently discovered contemporary manuscript copy from the beginning of the 18th century which was found in the music library of the Mariengymnasium in Jever, this aria has now been made available to performers for the first time in this new vocal score edition. Previous to this the corresponding pages could only be seen as a facsimile in an article of the “Göttinger Händel-Beiträge”.
Now the aria can be performed again. Furthermore, with the help of this new source, missing measures in the basso continuo which had initially been completed by the editor of the “Halle Handel Edition” volume, could be reconstructed from the basso continuo part of the Bellante aria “Ich brenne zwar” (no. 71).
- Urtext edition based on the “Halle Handel Edition”
- Original German and Italian text with a German translation of the Italian arias