Promoting Historically-Inspired Performances of Early Music and Baroque Opera
Riccardo Primo (1727)
By George Frideric Handel (Georg Friedrich Händel)
Richard the First, King of England, Sir-named Coeur-de-Lion, towards the Year One thousand and ninety, in his Voyage for the Acquisition of the Holy Land, was, in the Island of Cyprus, to marry Berengera the Daughter of the King of Navarre. Isacius Prince of the Family of the Conneno's, by forging a Diploma of Andronicus Emperor of Constantinople, got himself in peaceable Possession, till the Reign of Isacius Angelicus the Successor of Andronicus, who waged War against him, but in vain; because Isacius the Tyrant, being assisted by Margaritone, General of William King of Sicily, defeated the Imperial Army : The Victory puffed him up with Pride, and made him insolent and cruel on Success; hence he refused the Port of Limassol, anciently called Amathon, to the English Navy, without having any regard for the Princess of Navarre, (whom we call Constantia) who was there to espouse Richard, and who had laboured her Way thither through a strong and violent Tempest.
Richard, who had been driven by a Storm into Candia, resented this ill Treatment of Isacius, and placing himself, with his Fleet, before the Town, demanded Satisfaction of the Tyrant, for the Offence by him committed to his Royal Consort; but he received only an arrogant Answer, so disbarked his Army, came to battle, and put his Enemy to rout : Isacius, with difficulty escaped, with a few of his Men, and with Pulcheria his Daughter into a Castle, where he soon capitulated upon shameful Conditions : But repenting himself of them, and recalling them afterwards, he brought Richard to a Resolution of Storming the Castle : But Pulcheria coming down into the Camp, and throwing herself on her Knees, at the Feet of the generous Richard, obtained his Pardon for her Father. The Nuptials of the Conqueror were celebrated, and Constantia was crowned Queen. The other Persons are only introduced by way of Episode.
Antonio Lotti. Isacio tiranno (Venice 1710). Rolli based Riccardo Primo on the libretto by Francesco Briani. Briani chose a British subject because the opera was dedicated to John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, who presumably was visiting Venice at the time.
Winton Dean. Handel's Operas, 1726-1741 (Boydell Press 2006).
R. Strohm, "Handel and his Italian opera texts." Essays on Handel and the Italian Opera. (Oxford University Press 1985).