Handel – “Ombra cara di mia sposa” / DiDonato

The clip below is an aria from this recording of Handel’s Radamisto.

The immediate context is that Radamisto’s wife Zenobia has thrown herself into a river (anyone who has read Ethan Frome may well assume that throwing someone named Zenobia into a river will solve more problems than it causes, but this case is different) because Radamisto is not mezzo enough to kill her – they are being pursued by Tiridate, who has plans for Zenobia to which death, in Zenobia’s eyes, would be preferable, and it seems that they will soon be caught. So, into the river. Radamisto tells his wife’s shade to be at peace and await his vengeance on Tiridate, after which he will join her and embrace her.

What I liked about this is the intertwining string parts beginning at about 0.10 – and these patterns stick around for a while, during the first section of the aria (“Ombra cara di mia sposa, deh, reposa e lieta aspetta la vendetta che farò” / “Dear shade of my wife, ah, be at peace and joyfully await the revenge I shall take”). The little pattern in the strings repeats in a winding-down sort of way at 3.13, but this turns into the transition into the B section of the aria. We are back to section A at 4.25 or so (I love the way DiDonato’s voice just appears out of nothing there) and Radamisto is again contemplating revenge, but it is clear that Radamisto is a lover, not a fighter. The way DiDonato lingers over the ornament of “vendetta” / “revenge” at 6.18 suggests that Radamisto is little at a distance from the whole vendetta thing, as yet – the loss is more consuming than the desire for revenge. The word sort of hangs in the air. Beginning at 6.40 there is a long final section that is just the orchestra, and again we hear those agitated, uneasy repeating patterns in the strings. They’ve been there all along, of course, but they get the stage to themselves at the end.

4 thoughts on “Handel – “Ombra cara di mia sposa” / DiDonato

  1. Heya! I am eaving this note here, since it’s Handel-related. I am sure you came across this, but just in case, here is the link to Julius Ceasar live from Salzburg (last night).

    The archive is supposed to be available for about 60 days.

    Also here is a clip that another kind soul already posted to YouTube: Anne Sophie von Otter and Philippe Jaroussky singing “Son nata a lagrimar” a/k/a 8 minutes of mezzo/counter-tenor Heaven.


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