Nell'Africane selve; Dalla guerra amorosa
for bass and continuo
The first of these cantatas, Nell’Africane selve, dates from Handel’s visit to Naples. It has been suggested that its composition was associated with the marriage of the Duke of Alvito to Beatrice Tocco in July 1708. The cantata is notable for its wide vocal range, and its extravagant word-painting. (Singers should not be daunted by the bottom C#, because alternatives are easily found, and the high notes may be sung - and indeed are probably intended to be sung - falsetto, to enhance the word painting.) The second of the cantatas, Dalla guerra amorosa, is thought to be among those written for Ruspoli, possibly after Handel’s return from Naples, as the manuscript source is a copy made for Ruspoli in August 1709. This work is more delicate and even poignant – the aria to the fading of beauty, La bellezza è come un fiore, is reminiscent of Come rosa in su la spina in Apollo e Dafne . The cantata has a refrain (Fuggite, sì fuggite) which is also reflected in the music, and ends with a delightful arioso following the last refrain.