The concluding aria, one of Handel’s finest compositions, from the oratorio “Trionfo del Tempo” HWV 46a, sung by Amanda Forsythe. Live, ultra high definition video from our concert “As Steals the Morn,” 2019.
Recit “Pure del Cielo” 0:00
Aria “Tu del Ciel” 1:21
This concert won the “Best of the Bay” award for Best Early Music Performance.
Quite astonishingly, in the middle of a busy weekend in San Francisco, there were no sounds from the audience or from outside the church for the duration of this aria.
Handel’s first oratorio is a masterpiece, premiered in the summer of 1707, to a libretto by Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili. The Oratorio is written in series of grand gestures, and in a variety of styles, from the highly florid to the deeply personal.
The Aria “Tu del Ciel” ends the oratorio on a surprisingly still and numinous note, accompanied by a plangent countermelody on the solo violin.
In the opening recitative, Belezza, the personification of Beauty, directly addresses the angels to hear her appeal for spiritual and intellectual illumination. This is a theme that Handel would return to in his setting of Milton’s “L’Allegro.” We have arranged the orchestra chords of the opening with a series of trills to capture the affect of the fluttering angels’ wings. This effect is described by the baroque music theorist and composer Johann Mattheson. Mattheson famously fought a duel with Handel in 1704 in the orchestra pit over who would direct the show from the harpsichord. According to legend, Handel was saved by one of his large, brass buttons.
Handel’s accompaniment is a series of “perpetual motion” chords, invoking the inevitable wheel of time. He used a similar effect many years later in his oratorio Alexander Balus, in the aria “Convey me to some peaceful shore.”
The invocation to the angels, so poignantly addressed in the recit, also honors the angel in the orchestra “Arcangelo” Corelli, who would have played the solo violin part in the aria.
The soaring, arpeggiated soprano line graces the high A above the treble staff. The phrase “vano ardor”, vain passion, symbolizes the theme of Vanitas, the disintegration of all worldly things. Handel echoes the meaning of the text by fashioning a long, wandering phrase for the singer that slowly melts away into the final instrumental playout.
Voices of Music
Hanneke van Proosdij & David Tayler, directors
Carla Moore, solo violin
Tu del Ciel ministro eletto
Pure del Cielo intelligenze eterne,
che vera scuola a ben amare aprite,
udite, angeli, udite il pianto mio,
e se la Verità dal Sole eterno
tragge luce immortale, e a me lo scopre,
fate che al gran desio rispondan l’opre.
Tu del Ciel ministro eletto
non vedrai più nel mio petto
voglia infida, o vano ardor.
E se vissi ingrata a Dio
tu custode del cor mio
a lui porta il nuovo cor.
Tu del Ciel….
Pure and eternal spirits of heaven
who teach the art of true love
hear me, angels, hear my cries,
and as Truth from the ever-lasting Sun
brings eternal light, so I may receive illumination,
let my great desire be measured in my work.
You, the chosen minister of Heaven,
shall see no more in my heart
a faithless wish or vain passion.
And though I lived without thanks to God,
may you, the guardian of my heart,
bring to Him a new heart.
You, the chosen minister….
©2019 Voices of Music
This is the quietest I have ever heard the audience in St Mark’s.
I imagine if I had looked outside, the cars, motorcycles, dogs, ambulances and skateboards would have all been frozen in place. #Handel