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Händel, Georg Friedrich

Xerxes (1738)


Duration: 105 minutes

Comic opera in three acts (five scenes)

English   Deutsch  

Libretto after Nicolò Minato, revised by Silvio Stampiglia. New 1924 German version by Oskar Hagen (G).


dramS,colS,dramA,lyrT,lyrBar,B,buffoB; chorus; ad lib-hpcd-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)


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

World premiere of version
Handel Festival, Göttingen
Company: Unknown


XERXES, a young king Lyric Tenor
AMASTRIS, his fiancée Dramatic Alto
ARSAMENE, his brother Lyric Baritone
ARIODATE, general Bass
ROMILDA and ATALANTA, his daughters Dramatic Soprano, Coloratura Soprano
ELVIRO, Arsamene's servant Buffo Bass
Crowd, soldiers, wedding guests

Time and Place

Empty square, surrounded by garden and terraces; in front of and in a house. Antiquity


The young king Xerxes is engaged to Amastris, but has fallen in love with Romilda, the daughter of Ariodate, a general. Romilda, however, is in love with Arsamene, Xerxes’ brother. When Xerxes realizes, that his own brother is in his way, he wants to expel him. On the occasion of Ariodate’s victorious return, Xerxes announces the wedding of Romilda and a member of the royal house. Amastris, who has taken part in Ariodat’s campaign, is informed by Arsamene of Xerxes’ faithlessness and of his intention to marry Romilda. When Xerxes meets Amastris in front of Ariodate’s house and does not recognize her because she is still wearing her captain’s uniform, he orders her to stand as a guard in front of Ariodate’s house. Thus at dawn, when he, disguised in a cloak, wants to approach Romilda, she does not let him in. Then Xerxes pretends to be a messenger of the king and announces the imminent arrival of the ‘royal bridegroom’ to Ariodate. Romilda reacts quickly and arranges for Arsamene to present himself as the royal bridegroom before her father. When Xerxes arrives to ask Ariodate for Romilda’s hand, the wedding ceremony is already over. Xerxes takes the intrigue good-humouredly and returns to Amastris.

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