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Its melody is first found in act 3 of Handel’s 1705 opera Almira as a sarabande;[1] the score for this can be seen on page 81 of Vol. 55[2] of Friedrich Chrysander. Handel then used the tune for the aria “Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa”, or “Leave the Thorn, Take the Rose”, for the character Piacere in part 2 of his 1707 oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (which was much later, in 1737, revised as Il trionfo del Tempo e della Verità).[3]

Four years after that, in 1711, Handel used the music again, this time for his London opera Rinaldo and its act 2 aria “Lascia ch’io pianga”, or “Let me weep”, sung by the character Almirena. Rinaldo was a triumph, and it is with this work that the aria is chiefly associated.

The aria is written in the key of F major with a time signature of 3/2 and a tempo marking of Largo. In the first edition published by John Walsh, the orchestration is unspecified,[4] giving only a solo melody line above an unfigured bass line.

 

 

Lascia ch’io pianga
mia cruda sorte,
e che sospiri
la libertà.

Il duolo infranga
queste ritorte,
de’ miei martiri
sol per pietà.

Let me weep over
my cruel fate,
and let me sigh for
liberty.

May sorrow shatter
these chains,
for my torments
just out of pity.

The Keyboard suite in D minor (HWV 437) was composed by George Frideric Handel, for solo keyboard (harpsichord), between 1703 and 1706. It is also referred to as Suite de pièce Vol. 2 No. 4. It was first published in 1733.

Next on the list of pieces that I’m learning.  Super extra challenging aria because of the recitative in the beginning.  But, as they say, nothing worth doing is ever easy.

 

 

Ombra mai fu” is the opening aria from the 1738 opera Serse by George Frideric Handel.

In the opera, the aria is preceded by a short recitativo accompagnato of nine bars, setting the scene (“Frondi tenere e belle”). The aria itself is also short; it consists of 52 bars and typically lasts 3 to 4 minutes.

The instrumentation is for a string section: first and second violins, viola, and basses. The key signature is F major, the time signature is 3/4 time. The vocal range covers C4 to F5 with a tessitura from F4 to F5.

 

The title translates from the Italian as “Never was a shade”. It is sung by the main character, Xerxes I of Persia, admiring the shade of a plane tree.

Frondi tenere e belle
del mio platano amato
per voi risplenda il fato.
Tuoni, lampi, e procelle
non v’oltraggino mai la cara pace,
né giunga a profanarvi austro rapace.

Ombra mai fu
di vegetabile,
cara ed amabile,
soave più.

Tender and beautiful fronds
of my beloved plane tree,
let Fate smile upon you.
May thunder, lightning, and storms
never disturb your dear peace,
nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.

Never was a shade
of any plant
dearer and more lovely,
or more sweet.

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