Jessica Niles Aminta
Shakèd Bar Fillide
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie Conductor
When 22-year-old Handel arrived in Rome in 1707, the level of cultural effervescence was at its highest. Many cardinals and wealthy princes had private musical salons, or "conversazione", that were accessible to the public one day a week. One of the most important for the Roman intelligentsia was inherited from Queen Christina of Sweden, who had gathered around her the elite of artists and writers of the time. After her death in 1689, this group took the name of Accademia d’Arcadia, and dedicated itself to the exploration of new ideas. The Marquess Ruspoli, who had just been appointed head of the Academy, asked Handel, whom he had taken under his protection, to write a Pastoral (in this case a small opera with few protagonists) to serve as the central work for the Accademia’s first meeting of summer 1708. This was the origin of Aminta e Fillide, which premiered on 14 July 1708, for the small elite circle of members of the Academy and probably performed in the open air in the Ruspoli gardens in Rome.
Aminta e Fillide resembles a classic pastoral, where a nymph meets a young country boy - and difficulties begin. But here Aminta does not just try to seduce the distant Fillide with the usual flattery; instead he invokes "il Dio bambino col strale suo divino", the Christ child who will pierce her with his arrows of divine love. In this way the pastoral is elevated to a higher realm, transformed into a religious drama. Handel's music, as in all his Roman cantatas, shows a young composer exploring the full extent of his means. His score flows with invention, a series of memorable arias that he would later reuse in his operas Agrippina and Rinaldo, virtuoso and brilliant writing for singers and instrumentalists, and unexpected orchestrations - including a remarkable solo for archlute. In homage to Corelli's Roman style, Handel also created astonishing concerto grosso effects, with violin solos in dialogue with the ensemble. He succeeded in inventing an entire opera orchestra with the most limited means, using only a few violins and a basso continuo. Handel held in high esteem the freshness of his inspiration during his Roman period: almost all his 160 secular cantatas have a love theme and were the laboratory from which he drew for the composition of his very many future works, operas and oratorios. William Christie invites you to experience the magic of the Academy of Arcadia evenings, around love cantatas performed in the sublime setting of the Théâtre de la Reine du Petit Trianon. The evening also revolves around the guest reception in the Pavillon Français and its gardens decorated with summer flowers...
Georg Friedrich Handel (1685 – 1759)
Queen's TheatreMore info
Walking dinner before and after the concert, complimentary champagne, programme and car park.
Cocktail dress, dark suit.