Cavalli, Francesco
Il Xerse
Dramma per musica
Venice 1655
- First scholarly-critical edition of this early baroque opera
- Published with both research and performance in mind
- Detailed background information on the work and its genesis

Edition no.
BA 8915-01
Volume / Series
Francesco Cavalli. Opere
Stangalino, Sara Elisa / Schulze, Hendrik
Language(s) of work
Language(s) of text
Product format
Edition of selected works, Score, Urtext edition
Pages / Format
CII, 236 S. - 33,0 x 26,2 cm
In 1738 Georg Frideric Handel penned “Il Xerse” which was to be his last as well as his most famous opera. However in truth, Handel’s opera is nothing other than the final chapter in the history of a subject which had been set to music by Francesco Cavalli almost a century earlier: “Il Xerse”, performed for the first time in 1655 in the Teatro SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, was one of the most successful operas of its day. This is reflected not only by many well-known revivals throughout Italy, but also by the fact that the opera was chosen to be performed in Paris at the festivities for the wedding of the French King Louis XIV to Princess Maria Theresa of Spain.Among the strengths of the drama are the comedy and drama of daring situations and surprising turns of the plot. The comic element essentially consists of capricious Xerse’s efforts to win over the beautiful vassal Romilda but she is deeply in love with Arsamene, the King’s brother. The inevitable intrigues unleash a rich world of emotions in all those involved, depicted by stylistically extremely varied music.

Each character, whether serious or comic, never corresponds to a mere stereotype, but always reacts individually with a psychological complexity to the events, which are entirely human and easily accessible even to a contemporary audience.

The judiciously prepared scholarly-critical edition of “Il Xerse” forms part of the “Francesco Cavalli – Opere” series and is intended as a basis for research and performance of the opera. The editors Sara Elisa Stangalino and Hendrik Schulze have evaluated numerous historical sources, especially on the libretto of the opera. In addition to the meticulously edited texts of the work they provide a detailed Introduction to the time of the work’s genesis, the historical subject matter, the cooperation between librettist and composer, the sources, and the performance practice of this special music.

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