Libretto by Nicola Haym, adapting Antonio Salvi's libretto, based on Pierre Corneille's Pertharite. New 1920 German version by Oskar Hagen (G)
Boosey & Hawkes Bote & Bock
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes
for the world.
World premiere of version
Handel Festival, Göttingen
|RODELINDE, queen of the Langobards
|BERTARICH, king of the Langobards
|GRIMWALD, tyrant of the Langobards
|HEDWIG, Bertarich's sister
|GARIBALD, confidant of Grimwald
|UNOLF, confidant of Bertarich
|FLAVIUS, Rodelinde's little son
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.