Rodelinda
  • George Frideric Handel. Opera in three acts. 1725.
  • Libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym, after Antonio Salvi’s Rodelinda, regina de’Longobardi (Rodelinda, Queen of the Lombards) and Pierre Corneille’s play Pertharite, roi des Lombards (Pertharite, King of the Lombards).
  • First performance at the King’s Theatre, London, on 13th February 1725.

CHARACTERS

Rodelinda, Queen of the Lombards

soprano

Bertarido, her husband

male alto

Grimoaldo, Duke of Benevento, a usurper

tenor

Eduige, sister of Bertarido, betrothed to Grimoaldo

soprano

Unulfo, a nobleman

male alto

Garibaldo, Duke of Turin

bass

Flavio, son of Rodelinda and Bertarido

silent role

The usurper Grimoaldo has forced Bertarido to make his escape from Milan, leaving behind his wife and son. Grimoaldo resolves to break faith with Eduige and marry Rodelinda, while Bertarido returns to Milan in disguise, assisted there by his supporter Unulfo. He is captured by his enemy and matters are further complicated by the machinations of Garibaldo, who seeks the love of Eduige and the throne for himself. Eventually Bertarido escapes from his prison, with the help of Unulfo, kills Garibaldo and pardons Grimoaldo, who is now united with Eduige once more, to rule in his own dukedom, while Bertarido is restored to the throne.

In the first production of Rodelinda Francesca Cuzzoni sang the title role, with the castrato Senesino as Bertarido. His first aria Dove sei? (Where are you?), as he seeks his Rodelinda, is among the most famous, while Rodelinda is allowed the moving Ombre, piante (Shades, trees) as she mourns the supposed death of her husband.