When Handel arrived in Rome at the end of 1706, opera was no longer authorized there, deemed too entertaining and profane for certain rigorists, and too scandalous for the Vatican. The secular nobility instead turned to other genres such as the cantata.
It was in 1708, during the annual celebration of the “Accademia degli Arcadi” which consisted of poets, musicians and brilliant minds such as Alessandro Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli, that Handel was asked to compose a cantata. It would become the first of his famous so-called “Roman” cantatas. These works are for the most part passionate or melancholic… true miniature operas!
This mythological cantata for a soprano and a baritone is one of the jewels of the signature of this composer. This Italian period of Haendel undoubtedly influenced his following works. Throughout the story of Apollo and Daphne, the two singers are highlighted in a breathtaking duet.