Scherza infida, an aria from the opera Ariodante, is one of my favorite arias by Handel. It masterfully portrays the sadness and remorse of a deceived lover.
Ariodante is probably Handel’s most famous opera, along with Giulio Cesare and a few others. It is an opera seria in three acts, with music that intimately tells the tragic story. Unfortunately however, after it’s initial success (premiere in 1735 with eleven performances), Ariodante fell into obscurity for nearly two centuries.
This particular aria, scherza infida, is sung by the lead role (Ariodante), after he is told by an enemy that his love has betrayed him. He sings of his sorrow and true despair. Yet, at the end of the opera, Ariodante and his love (who had never been unfaithful) are reunited.
The Italian lyrics and translation to scherza infida:
E vivo ancora? Do I still live? E senza il ferro, And without a sword, oh! Dei! che farò? O gods! what shall I do? Che mi dite, o affanni miei? What do you say, o my troubles? Scherza infida in grembo al drudo, Enjoy yourself, o faithless one, in the arms of your lover. io tradito a morte in braccio Betrayed by you, per tua colpa ora men vo. I will now give myself up to death's embrace. Mà a spezzar l'indegno laccio, But, in order to break this shameful tie, ombra mesta e spirto ignudo, a sad and bereaved spirit, per tua pena io tornerò. I will return to punish you.
I have several versions of this aria which I love, however my two favorites are these:
Another wonderful aria in Handel’s Ariodante is bramo aver mille vite. It is a duet at the end of the opera when the two lovers are joyfully reunited.
Bramo aver mille vite, by Karina Gauvin and Ann Hallenberg.
Bramo aver mille vite, by Philippe Jaroussky and Nuria Rial.