The composition “Semele”, which premiered in February 1744, does not correspond to the genre criteria of either opera or oratorio and thus belongs to a number of significant works by Handel that elude clear classification. The editor of this edition calls the work a “musical drama in three acts”. The secular material is borrowed from Greek mythology. Semele, Zeus’ lover – as always on such occasions in a transformed appearance – arouses the jealousy of Zeus’ wife Hera and ultimately dies. Although Handel himself only performed it in concertante form, the work lends itself to staged performances, which is how it was performed time and again from the 20th century onwards.
This vocal score is based on the Urtext of the “Halle Handel Edition” (Volume I/19.1, BA04025-01). In consideration of a complex source situation, the three surviving versions of the work that were performed during Handel’s lifetime are presented here for the first time. Alternative movements of the early version as well as of the version performed at the end of 1744 can be found in the appendix.
- Urtext of the Halle Handel Edition
- Available for sale Full Score, hardback (BA4025-01), vocal score (BA4025-90)
- Performance material available for hire (BA4025-72)