Oh! that I on wings could rise
Recit. & Air from Theodora
for soprano (d’-g’’), violin & bc
Theodora is among Handel's last oratorios, and received its first performance in 1750. It is unusual in being a tragedy.
As a Christian, Theodora has refused to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods Venus and Flora, and has in consequence been condemned to a life of prostitution. This aria is the second of two arias sung by Theodora after she has been arrested and confined. As is evident from the words of her aria, she would prefer death rather than this humiliating punishment.
Subsequently she gains her freedom through the help of Didymus, who is in love with her, but her rescuer is caught and condemned to death. Theodora feels compelled to give herself up to suffer the penalty in his place. Finally they are both executed.