Two new displays in the Handel Gallery bring to life the performance history of operas Faramondo and Partenope, coinciding with stagings by the London Handel Festival and English National Opera.
Handel’s opera Faramondo was first performed at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket in London, on 3 January 1738. Faramondo (or Pharamond) was the legendary first King of France, in the Arthurian tradition, and thus an ideal subject for romance. Whilst Zeno’s libretto creates a heroic story of love, war, revenge and final reward, the opera was composed in haste. It ran for eight nights and was initially a success, although subsequently not revived until the twentieth century. Faramondo will be performed from 20-25 March as part of the London Handel Festival.
Handel’s opera Partenope (“Parthenope”) was first performed on 24 February 1730 at the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket. It is humorous in character with music of a light texture, unlike many of the composer’s operas. The plot had been used by several earlier composers, and involves romantic complications and gender confusion. The opera was apparently popular, running for seven nights in the first season, and was performed again later the same year, but no written record of its initial reception survives. Partenope will be staged by English National Opera from 17-24 March.