La Resurrezione

La Resurrezione (it. the Resurrection) (HWV 47) is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel.

Creation and first performances

Handel wrote the " Oratorio per la di Nostro Signor resurrettione Giesù Cristo " ( oratorio about the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ) in 1708 in Rome, where the Palazzo Bonelli of the Marchese Ruspoli on Easter Sunday, April 8, under the direction of Arcangelo Corelli was first performed and repeated on the following day (Francesco Valesio, Diario di Roma). Numerous Archivio Segreto Vaticano in invoice documents show that several handicraft enterprises were commissioned to build a stage and decorations, the work was thus presented in scenes. Occupy about 1,500 printed librettos that including three public samples about 300 people were present per performance.

The performance was in those period 1702-1709, in which Pope Clement XI. following a rising standard of religiosity in the city and to combat general moral decline, a petition from the circle of curators, all theater or opera performances prohibited. This regulation has not been implemented consistently: There were exceptions especially for foreign government representatives. Nevertheless, public performances were not welcome, especially since several earthquakes have been interpreted in 1703 as a divine sign of a coming doom.

Handel's oratorio excited despite the private nature of the production papal suspicion already by the fact that a woman as a singer ( Margherita Durastante ) was involved. She had to be replaced by the castrato Filippo in the repetition performance on Easter Monday. Secondly, was accused of the work that it is musically hardly differed as oratorio from an opera.

Libretto and action

The libretto by Carlo Sigismondo Capece, who worked as a secretary living in Rome Polish Ex - Queen Maria Casimira. The PlayBook has five persons acting: Angelo ( angel soprano) and Lucifer ( bass), who struggle for the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ in debates and philosophical discourses, and the three of Jesus grieving Mary Magdalene (soprano), Mary of Cleophas (Alt ), and the disciple John (tenor ).

The first part takes place in the night between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, the showdown of angels and Lucifer is in the foreground. Capece here uses the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, is reported in the of the Descent into Hell, which brings the light in the darkness - while Lucifer fights violently. He believes he has with Jesus' death prevents its healing promulgation. The second part is dedicated to the rising sun, the divine light of the resurrection, which is announced with a trembling of the earth.

The Music

Ten arias form the first and the second part of the oratorio, in the first of two arias were composed per vocalist respectively, in the second part of Lucifer was only one and Mary Magdalene contrast, three arias (the remaining persons per two). The two final scenes culminate in ensemble scenes that can be realized by a choir. Choirs are not otherwise provided, as the work of the narrator / Evangelist missing. In this respect, this work is actually an opera than an oratorio -like, as we know it today ( and how it was trained by Handel himself in later years only ). The orchestra provides extensive wind instruments ( flutes, oboes, trumpets ), strings and basso continuo.


The oratorio " La Resurrezione " is unmistakably an early work of the 23 -year-old composer. Kuehne harmonic progressions fit not as elegant as in later years in the musical context. Also set technically and in the recitatives is not all perfectly designed. A rich and often surprising musical expression is at the center, and all other aspects seem to be subordinate. Italian influences ( common Quint case sequences) are noticeable, but Handel's own handwriting is already trained unmistakable.