Aci, Galatea and Polifemo

Teatro Carignano, Friday 12 June 2009 - Friday 19 June 2009

Compagnia di San Paolo


Sara Mingardo and Luisa Baldinetti (Galatea), Antonio Abete and Sax Nicosia (Polifemo), Ruth Rosique and Cristina Bianchetti (Aci)

The love story of Acis and Galatea (from the Metamorphoses by Ovid, XIII, 738-897) must have pleased Georg Friedrich Händel greatly if we find in his catalogue a dramatic serenade, Aci, Galatea e Polifemo (Naples, 1708) and a masque, Aci and Galatea (London, 1732). On the same subject, Jean-Baptiste Lully had composed a “pastorale-héroïque” in 1686. What the Teatro Regio is presenting as the first performance in Torino is the staged version of the dramatic serenade Aci, Galatea e Polifemo that Händel composed during his stay in Italy, in Naples, when he was only 23 years old, on the libretto by Nicola Giuvo, the secretary of Duchess Aurora Sanseverini. In fact, it seems that it was Duchess Sanseverini herself who commissioned the cantata for the wedding of her niece, Beatrice Tocco di Montemiletto, Princess of Acaja, and the fifth Duke of Alvito, Tolomeo Saverio Gallo.
On the last page of the autograph score, Händel wrote “Napoli li 16 di Giugnio. 1708. d’Alvito”. The wedding took place on 19 July 1708. Aci, Galatea e Polifemo was then performed for other celebrations: the wedding of Pascale Gaetani d’Aragona and Maria Maddalena di Croy in 1711 and the name-day of the daughter of the Viceroy of Naples on 26 July 1713. The orchestration calls for soprano, contralto, bass, flute, oboe, two trumpets, two violins, two violoncellos and basso continuo. The role of Polifemo was written for the bass Antonio Manna, a highly-esteemed singer at the Cappella Reale of Naples and the Hofkapelle of Vienna, for whom two arias demanding great vocal virtuosity were composed: “Sibilar l’angui d’Aletto” and “Fra l’ombra e gl’orrori”.

Main data

Composer: Georg Friedrich Händel
Librettist: Nicola Giuvo
Year of the first performance: 1708 Napoli