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Rodrigo (HWV 5)

Dramma per musica in three Acts by George Frideric Handel

For a long time, a large portion of Handel’s early opera Rodrigo was thought to have been lost. It was not until 1974 that the printed libretto turned up again, and nine years later the third act was found in the Earl of Shaftesbury’s Handel collection. On August 29, 1984, finally, the work was revived during the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music conducted by Alan Curtis, and in 2019 it’s on the programme at the Göttingen International Handel Festival.

The opera narrates a freely adapted version of the end to the regency of the Last Visigoth King Roderich. In the libretto by Francesco Silvani, however, the reason behind it is less the lust for power on the part of his opponents than the thirst for vengeance of his spurned mistress. It was back in 1707 in Rome that George Frideric Handel wrote Vincer se stesso è la maggior vittoria (which translates as “To overcome oneself is the greater victory”), which is Rodrigo’s real title. The opera was not commissioned by Principe Ferdinando de’ Medici, as researchers had for a long time assumed, but nonetheless it paved the way for Handel’s further sojourn in Italy.


Walter Sutcliffe is a muchin-demand theatre and opera director. Between his duties as Director of the Northern Ireland Opera in Belfast and preparations for productions of Sweeney Todd and Die Fledermaus, he found time in October 2018 for a »telephone interview.


Performance material:
Hallische Händel-Ausgabe, Bärenreiter-Verlag Kassel · Basel · London · New York · Praha
Published by Rainer Heyink

The opera premiere was broadcast live on NDR Kultur.

Supported by             




Photo top: Mariano Barbasán, Batalla de Guadalete. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.


Walter Sutcliffe Stage director
Dorota Karolczak Set and costume designer
Susanne Reinhardt Lighting

Erica Eloff Soprano – Rodrigo
Fflur Wyn Soprano – Esilena
Anna Dennis Soprano – Florinda
Jorge Navarro Colorado Tenor – Giuliano
Russell Harcourt Countertenor – Evanco
Leandro Marziotte Countertenor – Fernando

FestspielOrchester Göttingen

Laurence Cummings Musical director