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Händel, Georg Friedrich

Rodelinde (1724-25)

Duration: 135 minutes
Opera in three acts (seven scenes)

Libretto by Nicola Haym, adapting Antonio Salvi's libretto, based on Pierre Corneille's Pertharite. New 1920 German version by Oskar Hagen (G)

dramS,A,heldenT,heldenBar,highB,B; chorus;
Abbreviations (PDF).

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World premiere of version
Handel Festival, Göttingen
Company: Unknown


RODELINDE, queen of the Langobards Dramatic Soprano
BERTARICH, king of the Langobards Heldenbaritone
GRIMWALD, tyrant of the Langobards Heldentenor
HEDWIG, Bertarich's sister Alto
GARIBALD, confidant of Grimwald High Bass
UNOLF, confidant of BertarichBass
FLAVIUS, Rodelinde's little son
Noblemen, guards

Time and Place
Milan in the 6th century


Grimwald has usurped the Langobardic throne by a coup d’état. Bertarich, the rightful king, has reached safety in exile but is believed to be dead. To secure his power, Grimwald rejects Bertarich’s sister Hedwig whom he had promised to marry and courts Queen Rodelinde, Bertarich’s wife, instead. She, however, has vowed fidelity to Bertarich beyond his death. Garibald, Bertarich’s vassal, wants to join up with Hedwig to strengthen his influence at the court, for he, too, wants to gain power. Hedwig agrees, if only to take her revenge on Grimwald. In the meantime, Bertarich has returned from exile und observes the activities at the court unrecognized. When he declares himself to Rodelinde, the two are caught by Grimwald. Grimwald, who does not recognize the king, thinks him to be a rival admirer and puts him in prison. Unolf, Bertarich’s retainer, assists in the king’s escape from prison with Hedwig’s help. Once free, he thwarts an assassination attempt on the sleeping Grimwald by Garibald. Grimwald now recognizes the king and returns the crown to him, shamed by Bertarich's human greatness.

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