In 1706, Handel began a trip to Italy, where the geopolitical situation was turned upside down. The great Catholic monarchies were fighting over a divided Europe. He was welcomed in Rome where opera was no longer authorized, deemed too decadent by the church. It is in this context that he composed the three oratorios "Il Trionfo del tempo e del Disinganno", "Dixit Dominus", and "La Resurrezione".
Handel's first oratorio, composed shortly after his arrival in Rome, "Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno" (1707), is based on the confrontation of four allegorical characters: Time and Disillusion, who oppose Pleasure and Beauty.
Very different from the great oratorios of Handel's maturity, this one is distinguished by its reduced instrumental force and its absence of a chorus. The score seduces with the inventiveness of its writing and the freshness of its inspiration.
This work would follow Handel all of his life, since he would recycle it more than once for the benefit of several other of his works such as "Agripina" (1709) or "Rinaldo" (1711), and he would expand upon it according to the needs of his career until 1758 when it was given its English title at Covent Garden, which has become “The Triumph of Time and Truth”.
All music lovers know the work through an aria that has become famous: “Lascia la spina” (“Leave The Thorn”) which would later be transformed into “Lascia ch’io pianga” in the opera "Rinaldo" (1711). The filmmaker Gérard Corbiau would largely contribute to the popularity of this aria which he used in his film "Farinelli" (1994).
This deliberately naive allegory with an austere moral is fortunately dressed in very musical verses; it is all that Handel needs, who does not intend to edify, but rather to conquer Rome and show that he can be more Italian than the Italians themselves.
“Handel’s score sparkles with exuberance, imagination and a flamboyant embrace of Italian taste. The soloists have the opportunity to display their virtuosity, as do several of the instrumentalists. But the real stars are the exquisite tunes, such as “Io sperai”, “Lascia la spina” and the breathtaking “Tu del ciel ministro eletto”."
Sébastien d'Hérin, director