The Triumph of Time and Truth

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The Triumph of Time and Truth is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel produced in three different versions across 50 years of Handel's career.

HWV 46a is an Italian oratorio from 1707, Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, revised and expanded in 1737 as HWV 46b. Finally, HWV 71 is a further expansion and revision, possibly without much involvement by the blind and aging Handel in his retirement, into an English-language oratorio from 1757.

Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno (HWV 46a)[edit]

This is Handel's very first oratorio, to a libretto by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili and with a title that translates as "The Triumph of Time and Disillusionment" (HWV 46a). The work, comprising two sections, was composed in spring 1707 and premiered that summer in Rome. Its most famous aria is "Lascia la spina" (Leave the thorn), later recast as "Lascia ch'io pianga" (Leave me to weep) in his 1711 opera Rinaldo.[1]

Il trionfo del tempo e della verità (HWV 46b)[edit]

Thirty years later, living in England and producing seasons of both English-language oratorio and Italian opera, Handel revised and expanded "Il trionfo" into a three-section work under a new title translated as "The Triumph of Time and Truth" (HWV 46b) in March 1737 and premiered on 23rd of that month. Three more performances followed within the ensuing month, and one more as a single revival production in 1739.

The Triumph of Time and Truth (HWV 71)[edit]

While Jephtha (1751) is considered Handel's final oratorio, the third revision of "Il trionfo" (HWV 71) dates from March 1757 with Isabella Young singing the role of Counsel (Truth). The libretto was reworked into English (probably by Handel's prolific last librettist, Thomas Morell), and the oratorio again expanded. Handel was in very poor health at this time, and the extent of his contribution (if any) to this "new" work is uncertain. John Christopher Smith Jr. probably assembled the score.


  1. ^ Hicks, Anthony. "Rinaldo". Oxford Music Online. Retrieved 28 January 2011.  (subscription required)

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