|George Frideric Handel|
Riccardo primo, re d’Inghilterra (Richard the First, King of England; HWV 23) is an opera in three acts written for the Royal Academy of Music (1719) by George Frideric Handel. The Italian-language libretto was by Paolo Antonio Rolli, after Francesco Briani's Isacio tiranno, set by Antonio Lotti in 1710. Handel wrote the work for the Royal Academy's 1726/1727 opera season, and also as homage to the newly crowned George II and the nation where Handel had just received citizenship.
R.B. Chatwin has discussed Handel's writing of orchestral parts for the chalumeau, a forerunner of the clarinet, as part of the musicological controversy over whether or not Handel wrote music for the clarinet or its precursors. Winton Dean and Richard Drakeford have commented on the weaknesses of the dramatic characterisations in the libretto.
The opera received its premiere at the King's Theatre in London on 11 November 1727, and 11 subsequent performances. It was also performed in Hamburg and Braunschweig in February 1729. The Hamburg performance, led by none other than Telemann, included two new comic characters, Murmilla and Gelasius; recitatives and the added arias for the new characters were translated into German although the original arias remained in Italian. Handel subsequently re-used music from the opera in Scipione and Tolomeo. The opera fell into neglect after the 1728 closing of the Royal Academy.
Riccardo Primo was rediscovered and performed by the Handel Opera Society at Sadler's Wells Opera in London on 8 July 1964. Later performances were given at Kourion Amphitheater in Cyprus at 1991, in order to mark the 800th anniversary of the historical events on which the opera is based, and also at the 1996 Göttingen Festival.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 11 November 1727|
|Costanza, daughter of the King of Navarre||soprano||Francesca Cuzzoni|
|Isacio, Governor of Cyprus||bass||Giuseppe Maria Boschi|
|Pulcheria, his daughter||soprano||Faustina Bordoni|
|Oronte, Prince of Syria||alto castrato||Antonio Baldi|
|Berardo, Costanza's cousin||bass||Giovanni Battista Palmerini|
- Time: 1191
- Place: Cyprus
The story concerns the marriage of Richard I of England to Constanza, a Spanish princess. The character of Costanza is identified with Berengaria of Navarre, who married [Richard I at Limassol at 1191. [Prior to the action of the opera, Riccardo and Costanza have not yet met.]
On her sea journey to be married to Riccardo, Costanza and her party are shipwrecked off the coast of Cyprus. She finds shelter at the court of the local governor, Isacio. Upon seeing Costanza, Isacio makes violent advances towards her, and has the idea to send his daughter, Pulcheria, in place of Costanza to Riccardo, whilst keeping the real Costanza for himself. This is spite of the fact that Pulcheria is engaged to his ally Oronte, Prince of Syria. However, Pulcheria has noticed that Oronte is himself attracted to Costanza, and sees her father's duplicity as an opportunity to humble her fiancé.
Riccardo himself arrives, disguised as his kingdom's ambassador, and asks after Costanza. Oronte has discovered Isacio's plot and stops it, which leads Pulcheria to forgive her fiancé. Riccardo is angry upon learning of Isacio's designs, but retains his disguise and plans to offer charity towards Isacio in spite of the ill plotting. Speaking "on behalf" of Riccardo, "the Ambassador" offers Isacio the choice of either peace or war. Isacio chooses war, with Costanza as the proposed prize. Pulcheria then introduces Riccardo, still incognito, to Costanza, and act 2 closes with a love duet for Costanza and Pulcherio.
In the conflict, Isacio says that he will kill Costanza if Riccardo does not call off the attack. Pulcheria has offered herself as a hostage to Riccardo's forces. She takes a sword from a soldier and prepares to stab herself, but Oronte prevents her. Riccardo's army eventually captures Isacio, and Riccardo dispenses justice as follows. Isacio must renounce his power, but is allowed to live. Pulcheria, with Oronte as her husband, shall reign in place of her father.
- L'Oiseau Lyre 452 201-2: Sara Mingardo (Riccardo), Sandrine Piau (Costanza), Olivier Lallouette (Berardo), Robert Scaltriti (Isacio), Claire Brua (Pulcheria), Pascal Bertin (Oronte); Les Talens Lyriques; Christophe Rousset, conductor
- Dean, Winton, "Handel's Riccardo Primo" (July 1964). The Musical Times, 105 (1457): pp. 498–500.
- Chatwin, R.B., "Handel and the Clarinet" (March 1950). The Galpin Society Journal, 3: pp. 3–8.
- Drakeford, Richard, "Festival Reviews: Virtue & Pleasure" (September 1996). The Musical Times, 137 (1843): pp. 36+38.
- Händel, Riccardo primo, Re d'Inghilterra. ed. Andreas Köhs. piano reduction. Bärenreiter 2007, Kassel p. X
- Dean, Winton, "Handel Operas" (September 1964). The Musical Times, 105 (1459): pp. 670–671.
- Burrows, Donald, "Recording Reviews: Handel Operas and Cantatas" (May 1998). Early Music, 26 (2): pp. 361–362.
- Dean, Winton (2006), Handel's Operas, 1726–1741, Boydell Press, ISBN 1843832682 The second of the two-volume definitive reference on the operas of Handel
- Anthony Hicks, "Riccardo Primo" in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7