Georg Frideric Händel’s Serse (Xerxes) has everything one would expect from a Baroque opera - many intertwining love stories, affairs, intrigues, scheming, misunderstanding and forgiving – all presented in the great master’s magnificent music.
The opera is set in Persia in 480 BC and is very loosely based upon Xerxes I of Persia, though there is little in either the Baroque libretto or music that is relevant to that setting, the main focus is on the characters (Serse, Arsamene, Amastre, Romilda, Atalanta, Ariodate and Elviro – some of which are based on real historical persons) and their plotting. The English version for the opera in three acts was made for the English National Opera’s production, first performed in 1985, on the 300th anniversary of Händel’s birth.
In this edition of the Vocal score with the original Italian and the later English lyrics accompaniment is provided by the instruments indicated in the orchestration (2 Recorders (or Flutes), 2 Oboes, 2 Horns in F, Trumpet in D, Strings and Continuo [Harpsichord, Cello, Double Bass, Bassoon]), but can also be played by the Piano. Serse’s part, originally sung by a castrato, can be performed by a Soprano or a Countertenor.