Apollo e Dafne (Handel)
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|George Frideric Handel|
Apollo e Dafne (Apollo and Daphne, HWV 122) is a secular cantata composed by George Frideric Handel in 1709–10. Handel began composing the work in Venice in 1709 and completed it in Hanover after arriving in 1710 to take up his appointment as Kapellmeister to the Elector, the later King George I of Great Britain. The work is one of Handel's most ambitious cantatas and is indicative of the brilliant operatic career to follow in the next 30 years of his life.
The work's overture has not survived and therefore another of the composer's instrumental works is sometimes performed as an introduction. The cantata's instrumentation is bright, as Handel adds a flute, a pair of oboes and a bassoon to the usual strings.
The work takes just over 40 minutes to perform.
Apollo, having released Greece from tyranny by killing the menacing dragon Python, is in an arrogant mood. He boasts that even Cupid’s archery is no match for his own bow and arrow. When he sees the lovely Daphne his conceit is shattered. He is instantly smitten and deploys all his charms to win her favour. Naturally distrustful, she rejects his advances and declares that she would rather die than lose her honour. Apollo becomes more forceful in insisting that she yield to his love and takes hold of her. When all seems lost, Daphne manages to escape from his grasp by transforming herself into a laurel tree. Overwhelmed by sorrow, Apollo pledges that his tears will water her green leaves and that her triumphant branches will be used to crown the greatest heroes.
|Movement||Type||Voice||Text (complete) – translated from the original Italian|
|2||Recitative||Apollo||The earth is set free! Greece is avenged! Apollo has conquered!|
After such terrors and such slaughter that have devastated and depopulated the country
the Python lies dead, put to death by my hand.
Apollo has triumphed! Apollo has conquered!
|3||Aria||Apollo||The good of the universe relies on this saving bow.|
With my praises let the earth resound and sacrifices be prepared to my protecting arm.
|4||Recitative||Apollo||Let Cupid in his pretty pride give way to the force of my arrows;|
let him boast no more of the fatal point of his golden arrows.
One Python alone is worth more than a thousand ardent wounded lovers.
|5||Aria||Apollo||Break your bow and cast away your weapons, God of idleness and pleasure.|
How can you ever hurt me, naked spirit and blind archer?
|6||Aria||Daphne||Most blest is this soul, that loves only freedom.|
There is not peace, there is no calm if the heart is not unfettered.
|7||Recitative||Apollo||What a voice! What a beauty!|
This sound, this sight pierces my heart. Nymph!
|Daphne||What do I see, alas?|
And who is it that surprises me?
|Apollo||I am a God, whom your beauty has aroused|
|Daphne||I know no other God in these woods but only Diana;|
do not come near, profane God.
|Apollo||I am Cynthia's brother;|
If you love my sister, fair one, pity the one who adores you.
|8||Aria||Daphne||You burn, adore, and beg in vain; only to Cynthia am I faithful.|
To her brother's flames of love Cynthia would have me cruel.
|Apollo||I seek an end to my troubles.|
|Daphne||And I shall survive it.|
|Apollo||I am consumed with love|
|Daphne||I am burning with anger.|
|A war rages in my breast that I can bear no longer.|
|Apollo||I burn, I freeze.|
|Daphne||I fear, I suffer.|
If this ardour is not checked I can never have peace.
|11||Recitative||Apollo||Be calm now, my dear one.|
The beauty that inflames me will not flower for ever;
the fairest that Nature creates passes, and does not last.
|12||Aria||Apollo||As the rose with its thorn quickly comes and quickly goes,|
so with sudden flight, passes the flower of beauty.
|13||Recitative||Daphne||Ah! A God should follow after no other love than for objects eternal;|
the fleeting dust will perish, will end,
that makes me pleasing to you,
but not the virtue that protects me.
|14||Aria||Daphne||As in gentle heaven the star of Neptune calms the storm,|
so in an honest and fair soul, reason holds love in check.
|15||Recitative||Apollo||Hear my reason!|
|Daphne||I am deaf!|
|Apollo||A bear you are, a tigress!|
|Daphne||You are no God!|
|Apollo||Yield to love, or you will feel my force.|
|Daphne||In my blood this ardour of yours will be quenched.|
|16||Duet||Apollo||Ah! Soften that harsh severity.|
|Daphne||To die is better than to lose my honour.|
|Apollo||Ah! Cease your anger, O beloved of my heart.|
|Daphne||To die is better than to lose my honour.|
|17||Recitative||Apollo||Always will I adore you!|
|Daphne||Always will I abhor you!|
|Apollo||You shall not escape me!|
|Daphne||Yes, I will escape you!|
|Apollo||I will follow you, run after you, fly in your steps:|
swifter that the sun you cannot be.
|18||Aria||Apollo||Run, my feet: hold tight, my arms, the ungrateful beauty.|
I touch her, I hold her, I take her, I hold her tight...
But what sudden change is this?
What did I see? What behold?
Heavens! Fate! Whatever is it!
|19||Recitative||Apollo||Daphne, where are you? I cannot find you.|
What new miracle has taken you away, changed you and hidden you?
May the cold of winter never harm you nor the thunder of heaven touch your sacred and glorious foliage.
|20||Aria||Apollo||Dear laurel, with my tears I shall water your green leaves;|
with your triumphant branches will I crown the greatest heroes.
If I cannot hold you in my bosom, Daphne, at least on my brow will I wear you.