One of my favourite soprano arias from my current repertoire is from the three act Opera ‘Floridante’ by Handel, ‘Amor Commanda’ and the recit ‘Servasi alla mia bella’; it is sung by the character ‘Timante’ in Act III; it’s had nearly 10,000 plays on my Soundcloud page, and it is also the first song I recorded on my cd Canzoni D’Amore (songs of love), so I thought I’d give a bit more information about the aria and the opera.
The opera is set in Persia.
There are six main roles:
Oronte, the King of Persia (bass), his daughters:
Elmira/Elisa (a contralto)
Rossane (a soprano)
Floridante, Prince of Thrace (alto/castrato) betrothed to Elmira
Timante, Prince of Tyre (soprano/castrato) betrothed to Rossane
Coralbo, Persian satrap (bass)
Years before the opera story begins Rossane’s father Oronte, a Persian general had staged a coup and murdered the King of Persia, Nino, stealing his throne and adopting his baby daughter Elisa as his own renaming her Elmira. When the his own daughter Rossane and Elmira were of marriageable age they were to be betrothed to princes of nearby kingdoms. Oronte had fallen in love himself with his adopted daughter and no longer wanted her to marry her betrothed prince Floridante from Thrace, a warrior in the cause of Oronte.
The kingdom of Tyre and Persia also went to war, so Rosanne’s wedding to Timante (who she’d not met having an arranged marriage for reasons of diplomacy) was also looking unlikely. Coralbo, a Persian satrap (from the Latin word satrapes) – meaning a provincial governor, usually of nobility, gives Floridante a letter from King Oronte saying that ‘for reasons of state’ his marriage to his daughter Elmira has been cancelled and commands him to leave the Country.
Timante, the betrothed of Rossane was believed to have been lost in battle. Rossane doesn’t lose faith and believes she will be united. Floridante returns triumphant from the battle with Tyre, he brings back a captive Glicone (who is Timante in disguise) saved for his skill in battle. He presents his captive to Rossane, to whom Glicone confides his true identity and swears undying love to her.
In Act 2 when Oronte declares his love for Elmira, telling her that she is to be his bride, she is distraught; she tells her adopted father that he is a monster. He tells her she is not his daughter.
In Act 3, Rossane tried to help her sister Elmira, proclaimed that even though they are not blood sisters they are joined till death by love. When Coralbo, discovers Elmira’s true identity he says the love of the Persian people for her family might make her Queen. Rossane and Timante begin to organise a coup in order for the two sisters and their betrothed to escape. Elmira goes to the imprisoned Floridante with a cup of poison which she had been told to administer to him, instead intending to drink it herself, Oronte enters and takes the cup from her hand. Timante and Coralbo enter arresting the King and proclaim Elmira Queen of Persia. Floridante the opera does have a happy ending; one of the most popular Elmira’s with fabulous reviews is Joyce DiDonato.
Here is a video of my performance of “Amor Commanda” from Bury, February 2014.
Here is a translation of Recitative and then the Aria into English ( source )
Let me dedicate myself to my beloved,
And devote myself to this noble aim.
Love in great souls is never
An obstacle to great endeavours,
And is even of greater value
When love and faith are the rewards of the beloved.
Love commands, honour guides,
A nobler principle in leading one’s life
Does not exist.
The soul, already afire with thoughts of glory
Speeds towards its goal,
Assured of victory.