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Ariodante (HWV 33) is an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel. The anonymous Italian libretto was based on a work by Antonio Salvi, which in turn was adapted from Canti 5 and 6 of Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso. Each act contains opportunities for dance, originally composed for dancer Marie Sallé and her company.

The opera was first performed in the Covent Garden Theatre, London, on 8 January 1735. Ariodante opened Handel's first season at Covent Garden and successfully competed against the rival Opera of the Nobility, supported by the Prince of Wales. Handel had the tacit and financial support of the King and Queen and, more vocally, of the Princess Royal. The opera received 11 performances during its premiere season at Covent Garden.[1]

Like Handel's other works in the opera seria genre, Ariodante, despite its initial success, fell into oblivion for more than two hundred years. An edition of the score was published in the early 1960s, from the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe.[2] In the 1970s, the work began to be revived, and has come to be considered one of Handel's finest operas. On March 29, 1971 the Handel Society of New York performed the American premiere of the work in a concert version with mezzo-soprano Sophia Steffan in the title role and Judith Raskin as Ginevra.[3]

Charles Cudworth has discussed the influence of French dance music in the opera.[4] Winton Dean has noted that act 2 of the opera, in its original version, is the only act in a Handel opera which ends with accompanied recitative.[5]


File:Front page Ariodante.jpg

Role Voice type Premiere cast, 8 January 1735
(Conductor: – )
Ariodante, a vassal prince soprano castrato Giovanni Carestini
Ginevra, daughter of the King of Scotland,
betrothed to Ariodante
soprano Anna Maria Strada del Pò
Dalinda, attendant on Ginevra,
secretly in love with Polinesso
soprano Cecilia Young
Polinesso, Duke of Albany contralto Maria Caterina Negri
Lurcanio, Ariodante's brother tenor John Beard
King of Scotland bass Gustavus Waltz
Odoardo, favorite of the king tenor Michael Stoppelaer


Ginevra, daughter of the King of Scotland, is betrothed to Ariodante. Polinesso, a jealous rival of Ariodante, wins the confidence of Ginevra's friend Dalinda. With Dalinda's unwitting help, Polinesso tricks Ariodante into thinking that Ginevra is his (Polinesso's) lover.

The King, hearing of Ginevra’s alleged infidelity, disowns her, while Ariodante is reported dead by suicide. Polinesso then sends his agents to kill Dalinda, as the only witness to his plot. But Ariodante (whose suicide attempt was foiled), having met Dalinda while wandering in the woods, drives off the would-be assassins.

Polinesso, seeking to win the King’s favour, now offers to defend the honour of Ginevra in a tournament. In the combat, he is mortally wounded by Ariodante’s vengeful brother Lurcanio. Ariodante, having learned about Polinesso’s plot from Dalinda, now appears and offers himself as Ginevra’s champion. The dying Polinesso confesses his guilt and Ginevra is pardoned by the King.

Noted arias

  • No. 1: "Vezzi, lusinghe, e brio" – arioso, Ginevra, act 1, scene 1
  • No. 4: "Coperta la frode" – aria, Polinesso, act 1, scene 4
  • No. 6: "Prendi da questa mano" – duet, Ginevra, Ariodante, act 1, scene 5
  • No. 9: "Con l'ali di costanza" – aria, Ariodante, act 1, scene 8
  • No. 11: "Del mio sol vezzosi rai" – aria, Lurcanio, act 1, scene 10
  • No. 23: "Scherza infida" – aria, Ariodante, act 2, scene 2
  • No. 24: "Se tanto piace al cor" – aria, Dalinda, act 2, scene 3
  • No. 28: "Il tuo sangue, ed il tuo zelo" – aria, Lurcanio, act 2, scene 7
  • No. 30: "Il mio crudel martoro" – aria, Ginevra, act 2, scene 9
  • No. 47: "Dopo notte" – aria, Ariodante, act 3, scene 8
  • No. 51: "Bramo aver mille vite" – duet, Ginevra, Ariodante, act 3, scene 11




  1. 1.0 1.1 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  2. "J.A.W." (no full name given), "Reviews of Music: Collected Editions – Ariodante (edited by Karl-Josef Fürth) (January 1962). Music & Letters, 43 (1): pp. 83–84.
  3. Donal Henahan (March 31, 1971). "Ariodante' Performed As Concert". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Cudworth, Charles, "Handel and the French Style" (April 1959). Music & Letters, 40 (2): pp. 122–131.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Dean, Winton, "Record Reviews: Ariodante" (January 1981). The Musical Times, 122 (1655): pp. 33–34.
  6. Chisholm, Duncan, Review of Recordings of Ariodante and Serse (January 1982). Early Music, 10: (1): pp. 101, 103, 105.
  7. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).


  • Dean, Winton (2006). Handel's Operas, 1726–1741. Boydell Press. ISBN 1-84383-268-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The second of the two-volume definitive reference on the operas of Handel.

External links