Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, HWV 72
Serenata a tre
Edition: OE 10720
The first ever vocal score (piano reduction) of Handel’s dramatic cantata or serenata a tre, Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, HWV 72. It is based on Friedrich Chrysander’s edition of Aci, Galatea e Polifemo (HWV 72), produced by the German Handel Society (HG 53), Handel’s 1708 autograph of the work, and a later 18th century manuscript that, apart from the contents in the hand of John Christopher Smith Sr., contains the final pages which were removed from the 1708 autograph (signed Napoli li 16 di Giugnio).
Contents: Preface, Index of numbers, Vocal score
Backround: Handel composed Aci, Galatea e Polifemo (Acis, Galatea, and Polyphemus) during his time in Naples, finally completing the work on June 16th, 1708. While there is still some discrepancy as to who exactly commissioned the piece and for what reason, we are most certain that the serenata had its first performance a month after its completion on July 19th during the wedding festivities of Tolomeo Saverio Gallo, the Duke of Alvito, and Beatrice Tocco di Montemiletto, Princess of Acaja. While Handel never presented this work again in his lifetime, he did use the same storyline for several other works: a one-act English masque performed at Cannons in 1718, a three-act serenata performed in London in 1732 using music from the original 1708 version and selections from his other Italian cantatas, and a two-act English version performed in 1739, also in London. This 1739 Acis and Galatea was his most frequently performed dramatic work during his lifetime, and is also the most frequently performed version of the story today.
Synopsis: The libretto used for the 1708 serenata was written by Nicola Giuvo, private secretary and literary adviser to the Dutchess Aurora Sanseverino, the aunt of the bride whose wedding was celebrated during the premiere of this work. The source material for Giuvo’s libretto was Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book XIII), and tells the story of the cyclops Polyphemus who after being continuously rejected by the sea-nymph Galatea, throws a rock at her beloved Acis and kills him in a fit of jealousy. She then turns his blood into a river, and transforms him into a river-god.