Largo from Xerxes

by Jun 19, 2020Blog, Spiritual Resources0 comments

The opera by Handel, Xerxes (or Serse, to give it the Italian title) was a flop at its conception, but its enduring Largo aria has touched many hearts since it was first performed in 1738.

Unexpectedly, Handel’s opera, based on the story of Xerxes I of Persia, didn’t go down too well in 18th Century England. Caught between the straight-faced drama of an opera seria, and the comic opera buffa style, it disappeared from the stage after a mere five performances at the King’s Theatre in London.

The opening aria, known as Ombra mai fu, is an operatic favourite thanks to its beautiful plaintive melody. It’s one of opera’s more unusual love songs, performed by Xerxes as he admires the shade of a plane tree. As an instrumental arrangement, it is known as Handel’s Largo, despite being marked larghetto in the score.



Obtained from

On the header, Persian soldier from Persepolis by Zanskar.


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