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Home » Composers » German Composers » GF Handel » Handel Pasticci

Pasticcio Operas & Oratorios

Arranged by or with music by

George Frideric Handel

(Georg Friedrich Händel)

Handel's pasticcios are described in detail, with a chart showing the known sources of arias, in the chapter "Handel's Pasticci" in Strohm, Essays on Handel and Italian Opera (Cambridge University Press 1985). Among these works were operas based on Leo's Catone in Utica, Vinci's Didone abbandonata & Artaserse, Giacomelli's Lucio Papirio Dittatore & Hasse's Caio Fabricio that contained most of the original music. Although Handel obviously thought that his audience would find "modern" music of interest, the pasticcios were failures. That could explain why they are just beginning to be revived today, despite the depletion of unrecorded works associated with Handel.

Strohm wrote about Didone:

"Handel had again failed to succeed on the London stage with an opera universally admired in Italy. The rival company [Opera of the Nobility], though on the verge of bankruptcy, gave many more performances of Hasse's Siroe and Pescetti's Demetrio. In the meantime, however, Handel had attracted -- not least with his oratorios -- a new following unable to appreciate Vinci or Hasse, as he did. In fact, the fundamental problem about Handel's pasticci lay in the fact that his own music, in his own theatre, presented too strong a rival attraction to any operas of Italian origin."

Similar pages: Handel oratorios | Handel operas | Handel cantatas.

HWV Appendix listing Handel's pasticcios, by


Handel. Didone (London 1737). Pasticcio based on Vinci's Didone abbandonata (Rome 1726), with new recitative by Handel, supplemented with arias by Vinci (Semiramide), Leo (Demetrio), Hasse (Cajo Fabricio, Issipile & Euristeo), Vivaldi (Griselda), Ristori (opera unknown), and Giacomelli (Annibale). Ensemble Serse. Didone: Elinor Rolfe Johnson, soprano; Enea: Calvin Wells, male soprano; Jarba: Benjamin Williamson, countertenor; Selena: Clara Kanter, mezzo-soprano; Araspe: TBC; Osmida: TBC. Planned for the 2014 London Handel Festival, but replaced with Jommelli's 1747 version. See the Jommelli page for details.


Handel. Catone. (London 1732). Glossa GCD 923511 (2 CDs, February 2017). Booklet (pdf). Pasticcio based on Leo's Catone in Utica, with arias by Hasse, Vinci, Porpora, Vivaldi and others of uncertain origin. Glossa. Forthcoming 2017. Details. Carlo Ipata, Auser Musici. Catone: Sonia Prina, contralto; Marzia: Roberta Invernizzi, soprano; Emilia: Lucia Cirillo, soprano; Arbace: Kristina Hammerström, mezzo-soprano; Cesare: Riccardo Novaro, tenor. Audios from recent performances: Vede il nocchier la sponda (Hasse, Euristeo); Vo' solcando un mar crudele (Vinci, Artaserse). Download mp3 broadcast from 2016 Halle Festival (same cast as CD). US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. Alessandro Severo. (Self-pasticcio opera, HWV A13, London, 1738). MDG 609 1674-2 (3 CDs, January 2011). George Petrou, Armonia Atenea. Αlessandro: Μary-Ellen Nezi, mezzo-soprano; Salustia: Marita Solberg, soprano; Giulia: Kristina Hammarström, mezzo-soprano; Albina: Irini Karaianni, mezzo-soprano; Claudio: Gemma Bertagnoli, soprano; Marziano: Petros Magoulas, bass. Handel composed a fine, new overture, which is on the CD "Emma Kirkby sings Mrs. Arne." Also in this set: Niccolò Manzaro. Don Crepuscolo (Corfu 1815). Christophoros Stambaglis, bass. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. Giove in Argo (HWV A14, 1739). Mainly a self-pasticcio, with two arias from Francesco Araja's Lucio Vero. Cantate/Musicaphon M56891 (2 CDs, July 2007). Details. Sylvie Kraus, Matthias Beckert, Thomas Gebhardt, Concert Royal Köln, Kammerchor Würzburg. Calisto: Lisa Tjalve, soprano; Iside: Tanya Aspelmeier, mezzo-soprano; Diana: Theresa Nelles, soprano; Aretes (Giove): Benoît Haller, tenor; Erastus (Osiris): Markus Auerbach, bass; Licaone: Raimonds Spogis, bass. Libretto by Antonio Maria Lucchini for Antonio Lotti (Dresden 1719). Reconstruction by Steffen Voss & Thomas Synofsik. While Winton Dean has described Giove in Argo as "an unsatisfactory hodgepodge" (Handel's Operas 1726-1741, p. 398 -- a more detailed analysis will appear in King (2008)), I find the opera and this recording quite enjoyable. It contains many previously unrecorded arias and choruses by Handel, and the arias by Araja are equally worthwhile. (The next to last line of text is missing in the A section of "Questa d'un fido amore", the Araja rage aria, which sounds like "Perfido! Deh spietato!".) The thick booklet contains numerous color photos of the ridiculous, modern production but no English translation of the text, not even the version from the original word book. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. Giove in Argo (Self pasticcio opera, HWV A14, London 1739). Virgin 50999 7231162 2 (3 CDs, March 2013). Booklet (pdf). Alan Curtis, Il Complesso Barocco. Calisto: Karina Gauvin, soprano; Iside: Ann Hallenberg, mezzo-soprano; Diana: Theodora Baka, soprano; Arete (Giove): Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani, tenor; Osiris (Erosto: Vito Priante, bass; Licaone: Gianluca Buratto, bass. First recording using the new HHA edition, reconstructed by John Roberts, who discovered the two "lost" arias by Francesco Araja, as reported in his article "The Story of Imeneo" in the 2001 Händel-Jahrbuch. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. Israel in Babylon (Pasticcio compiled by Edward Toms in 1764, with instrumental works transformed into arias.) K617 172 (2 CDs, June 2005). Booklet (pdf). Joachim Fontaine, Kantorei Saarlouis, Ensemble UnaVolta. Zorobabel: Joseph Cornwell, tenor; Pharez: Julia Gooding, soprano; Israelite 1: Sabine von Blohn, soprano; Israelite 2: Jonathan Peter Kenny, countertenor; Salathiel: Ekkehard Abele, bass; Darius: Adolph Seidel, bass. (See Eva Zöllner, English Oratorio After Handel.) 2005 Best Baroque Oratorio CD Award. Highly recommended! This is the best posthumous pasticcio of Handel's music recorded to date. It's much better than than the oratorios compiled by Smith, and the libretto is closer to a serenata libretto than, for example, Israel in Egypt, to which this work bears little resemblance. The characters debate which is most powerful -- the king, wine, or women, and ultimately decide in favor of truth. Toms reorchestrated Handel much as Mozart did, adding horns, clarinets and bassoons. One sinfonia is reduced to harmoniemusik for clarinets and horns only. Familiar pieces utilized include "Da tempeste" from Giulio Cesare, the Siciliana from Ottone, the Royal Fireworks music -- now a chorus with fifes and drums, the Pifa from Messiah as a duet, and "Ombra mai fù". Excellent performance and recording. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. Oreste (HWV A11, 1734). Animato ACD 6123 (2 CDs 2010). Self-pasticcio containing two new arias. Tobias Horn, unnamed ensemble. Oreste: Cornelia Lanz, mezzo-soprano; Ermione: Nastasja Docalu, soprano; Ifigenia: Sabine Winter, soprano; Pilade: Christian Wilms, tenor; Toante: Kai Preussker, baritone; Filotete: Armin Stein, countertenor. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Handel. Oreste (HWV A11, 1734). MDG 609 1273-2 (2 CDs 2004). Review by Philippe Gelinaud. Self-pasticcio containing two new arias. George Petrou, Camerata Stuttgart (modern instruments). Oreste: Mary-Ellen Nesi, mezzo-soprano; Ermione: Maria Mitsopoulou, soprano; Ifigenia: Mata Katsouli, soprano; Pilade: Antonis Koronaios, tenor; Toante: Petros Magoulas, bass; Filotete: Nikos Spanos, countertenor. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
George Frideric Handel, Thomas Arne, J.F. Lampe. Arias: Emma Kirkby Sings Mrs. Arne. L'Oiseau Lyre 436 132-2 (1 CD 1993). Emma Kirkby, soprano. Christopher Hogwood, The Academy of Ancient Music. Includes the overture to Handel's self-pasticcio, Alessandro Severo (HWV A13, 1738). My favorite among the arias is "Pretty warblers" from Lampe's 1733 English opera, Didone, with transverse flute in Siciliana rhythm. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Reissued as part of a 2-CD set with Emma's disc of Mozart arias. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Handel. Nabal. (A pasticcio oratorio compiled in 1764 by John Christopher Smith Jr.) Naxos 8.555276/77 (2 CDs 2002). Review by Philippe Gelinaud. Joachim Carlos Martini, Barockorchester Frankfurt, Junge Kantorei. Shepherd: Linda Perillo, soprano; Asaph: Francine van der Heijden, soprano; Abigail: Maya Boog, soprano; David: Knut Schoch, tenor; Nabal: Stephan McLeod, bass. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Handel & J.C. Smith Jr. Gideon. (A pasticcio oratorio compiled in 1769 by John Christopher Smith Jr. & Thomas Morell.) Naxos 8.557312/13 (2 CDs 2004). Review by Les Robards. Joachim Carlos Martini, Barockorchester Frankfurt, Junge Kantorei. Linda Perillo, soprano; Barbara Hannigan, soprano; Nicola Wemyss, soprano; David Cordier, countertenor; Knut Schoch, tenor; Stephan McLeod, bass. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP
Handel & J.C. Smith Jr. Tobit. (A pasticcio oratorio compiled by John Christopher Smith Jr. & Thomas Morell.) Junge Kantorei (2 CDs 2001); reissued on Naxos 8.570113/14 (February 2007). Libretto (pdf). Joachim Carlos Martini, Barockorchester Frankfurt, Junge Kantorei. Linda Perillo, soprano; Barbara Hannigan, soprano; Maya Boog, soprano; Alison Browner, mezzo-soprano; Knut Schoch, tenor; Stephan McLeod, bass. This pasticcio was discovered quite recently by Richard King in the Victor Schoelcher Collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, along with the manuscripts of Gideon and Nabal, and a fourth posthumous pasticcio, Redemption US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Contemporary Report

"I am just come from a long, dull, and consequently tiresome Opera of Handel's, whose genius seems quite exhausted. . . . The only thing I liked in it was our Naples acquaintance, Celestina, who is not so pretty as she was, but sings better than she did. She seemed to take mightily, which I was glad of. I have a sort of friendship for her, without knowing why." John Hervey, first Earl of Bristol writing to his friend Stephen Fox after attending a performance of Handel's pasticcio Catone, 4 November 1732, quoted in Strohm (p. 249). Hervey and Fox had spent January-March 1729 in Naples. Strohm adds: "[Celeste] Gismondi's music differs significantly from that of the other singers by being mainly drawn from the works of Johann Adolf Hasse, whereas the others sung mainly Leo's music, with some admixture of Porpora." (p. 250).


Richard King (ed.) Handel Studies - A Gedenkshrift for Howard Serwer. Details. Pendragon Press 2008. Includes an article by Winton Dean about Handel's Giove in Argo. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Eva Zöllner. English Oratorio After Handel: The London oratorio series and its repertory, 1760-1800. Details. "The extensive appendices include a complete list of all oratorio performances at the London theatres from 1760 to 1800 with vocal and instrumental soloists as well as a list of manuscript scores and contemporary editions." Tectum Verlag 2002. 365 pages. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Reinhard Strohm. Essays on Handel and Italian Opera. Cambridge University Press, 1985. Collection of Strohm's essays, some published in English for the first time. A book to which I return repeatedly. Contents include: Handel's Italian journey as a European experience; Handel and his Italian opera texts; Francesco Gasparini's later operas and Handel; Towards an understanding of the opera seria; Handel's pasticci; Handel's Ezio; Metastasio's Alessandro nell'Indie and its earliest settings; Comic traditions in Handel's Orlando. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP

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