La resurrezione (HWV 47) is a sacred oratorio by George Frideric Handel, set to a libretto by Carlo Sigismondo Capece (1652–1728). Capece was court poet to Queen Marie Casimire of Poland, who was living in exile in Rome. It was first performed on Easter Sunday, 8 April 1708 at Rome, with the backing of the Marchese Francesco Ruspoli, Handel's patron at this time. The work details the events between — and during — Good Friday and Easter Sunday, with the action carried forward in recitative, and exploration of character and delineation of mood taking place in the arias. The characters of the liturgical drama that appear in the oratorio are Lucifer (bass), Mary Magdalene (soprano), an angel (soprano), St John the Evangelist (tenor), and St Mary Cleophas (alto).

First performanceEdit

A large orchestra was employed for the occasion, consisting of 39 strings of varying types, 1 viola da gamba, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, and 4 oboes. The staging and scenery were also lavishly produced, and though Roman censorship of the time forbade opera, La resurrezione was certainly produced in an operatic manner. It was produced at Ruspoli's Palazzo in the main hall on the ground floor. A series of terraced seats, 4 in number, was built for the orchestra, curved towards the audience and rising at the back. Twenty-eight specially commissioned music stands were built for the occasion, engraved with either the coat-of-arms of Ruspoli or his wife. The proscenium was decorated with a tapestry depicting cherubs, palm trees, and foliage: in the middle of which hung a plaque with the name of the oratorio. The 46 letters were spread out over 4 lines, each letter about 18 cm in height. These letters were brought into prominence by the backing light of seventy light pans. The canvas backdrop represented pictorially the characters of Handel's oratorio, and in the centre was depicted the resurrection itself.

The role of Mary Magdalene was sung at the first performance by the soprano Margherita Durastanti. The participation of female singers was prohibited by Papal edict, and the Pope went to the length of admonishing Ruspoli for permitting Durastanti to take part. For the remaining performances, her role was sung by a castrato. The only details given concerning this individual are that he was called "Pippo", and that he was in service to the former Queen Casimire. Durastanti later sang the title role in Handel's Agrippina. The aria "Ho un non so che", which she had sung as Mary Magdalene anticipating the resurrection, appears entirely unadapted for her to sing in Agrippina, though in a different context. The violins at the first performance of La resurrezione were led by the famous violinist Arcangelo Corelli (who also conducted the work). Iit was most likely Ernst Christian Hesse who played the demanding viola da gamba solo part.[1]

Other catalogues of Handel's music have referred to the work as HG xxxix; and HHA i/3.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 8 April 1708
Lucifer bass Cristofano Cinotti
Mary Magdalene soprano Margherita Durastanti
An angel soprano castrato Matteo Berselli
St John the Evangelist tenor Vittorio Chiccheri
St Mary Cleophas alto castrato (en travesti) Pasquale Betti (Pasqualino)


Part Type Voice Name
I Overture
I Aria Angel Disserratevi, o porte d'Averno
I Recitative Lucifer Qual insolita luce
I Aria Lucifer Caddi, è ver, ma nel cadere
I Recitative Lucifer, Angel Ma che veggio? Di spiriti a me nemici
I Aria Angel D'amor fu consiglio
I Recitative Lucifer, Angel E ben, questo Nume
I Aria Lucifer O voi dell'Erebo
I Recitative Mary Magdalene Notte, notte funesta
I Aria Mary Magdalene Ferma l'ali, e sui miei lumi
I Recitative St Mary Cleophas, Mary Magdalene Concedi, o Maddalena
I Aria St Mary Cleophas Piangete, sì, piangete
I Recitative Mary Magdalene, St Mary Cleophas Ahi dolce mio Signore
I Duet Mary Magdalene, St Mary Cleophas Dolci chiodi, amate spine
I Recitative St John, Mary Magdalene O Cleofe, o Maddalena
I Aria St John Quando è parto dell'affetto
I Recitative St Mary Cleophas, St John, Mary Magdalene Ma dinne, e sarà vero
I Aria St Mary Cleophas Naufragando va per l'onde
I Recitative St John, Mary Magdalene Itene pure, o fide
I Aria St John Così la tortorella talor piange e si lagna
I Recitative Mary Magdalene Se Maria dunque spera
I Aria Mary Magdalene Ho un non so che nel cor
I Recitative Angel Uscite pur, uscite
I Final All Il Nume vincitor
II Overture
II Recitative St John Di quai nuovi portenti
II Aria St John Ecco il sol, ch'esce dal mare
II Recitative St John Ma ove Maria dimora
II Aria Angel Risorga il mondo
II Recitative Angel Di rabbia indarno freme
II Recitative Lucifer, Angel Misero! Ho pure udito?
II Aria Lucifer Per celare il nuovo scorno
II Recitative Angel Oh come cieco il tuo furor delira!
II Duet Lucifer, Angel Impedirlo saprò!
II Recitative Mary Magdalene, St Mary Cleophas Amica, troppo tardo
II Aria Mary Magdalene Per me già di morire
II Recitative Lucifer Ahi, abborrito nome!
II Aria St Mary Cleophas Vedo il ciel, che più sereno
II Recitative Mary Magdalene, St Mary Cleophas, Angel Cleofe, siam giunte al luogo
II Aria Angel Se per colpa di donna infelice
II Recitative Mary Magdalene Mio Gesù, mio Signore
II Aria Mary Magdalene Del ciglio dolente
II Recitative St Mary Cleophas Sì, sì cerchiamo pur
II Aria St Mary Cleophas Augeletti, ruscelletti
II Recitative St John, St Mary Cleophas Dove sì frettolosi
II Aria St John Caro Figlio, amato Dio
II Recitative Mary Magdalene, St John, St Mary Cleophas Cleofe, Giovanni, udite
II Aria Mary Magdalene Se impassibile, immortale
II Recitative Mary Magdalene, St Mary Cleophas, St John Sì, sì col Redentore
II Final All Diasi lode in cielo, in terra


  1. ^ Guentersberg. Retrieved 3 January 2018
  2. ^ Hicks, Anthony (2001). Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. x (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan. p. 784.



  • R. Ewerhart : New Sources for Handel’s La Resurrezione, ML, xli (1960), 127–35
  • E. Rosand : Handel Paints the Resurrection, Festa musicologica: Essays in Honor of George J. Buelow, ed. T.J. Mathiesen and B.V. Rivera (Stuyvesant, NY, 1995), 7–52
  • A. Hicks : Handel’s Early Musical Development, PRMA, ciii (1976–7), 80–89
  • D. Burrows, ed.: The Cambridge Companion to Handel (Cambridge, 1997)

External linksEdit