Two Arias from Eccheggiate, festeggiate (HWV 119)
with oboe, violin and continuo
The serenata Echeggiate, festeggiate Numi eterni (HWV 119) survives only in an incomplete autograph in the Royal Music Collection in the British Library (R.M. 20.e 4.), which can now be shown to have been bound in the wrong order. This has had the consequence that the Chrysander edition shows the work as an incomplete cantata Io languisco frà le gioje. Research has also revealed that the paper used by Handel is associated with his first periods in London from the autumn of 1710 onwards. The references in the work to ‘Carlo l’Augusto’ and ‘il rege d’Iberia è Carlo solo’ imply a celebration of the intended accession of the Habsburg Archduke Charles as King Carlos III of Spain, and opposition to the French intention of establishing Louis’ grandson Philippe D’Anjou as king. However, as Charles succeeded as Emperor in April 1711, it became preferable to Britain and the other members of the Alliance, that Spain should remain under Philip, rather than become part of the Habsburg empire. An end to the warring over the Spanish succession was therefore sought, and the peace process resulted in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. There was therefore only a short ‘window’ in which the sentiments expressed in Echeggiate, festeggiate were politically relevant, and during which it could have been performed. It is possible that it never was performed for this reason, and this may explain why the work was not as well preserved as many of Handel’s autographs.
The two arias are sung by the mythical characters of Juno (Giunone) and Minerva. Juno was wife of Jupiter and protectress of the State and is heralding a new era of peace, while Minerva, the warrior-goddess, is extolling the heroic qualities of Charles, and offers the approbation of the gods, and even a place among them.