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About this Piece

Handel tailor-made his arias to suit the particular strengths of his leading singers, and when he composed Flavio, King of the Lombards for the King’s Theatre in 1723, he wrote the role of Guido for Senesino (Francesco Bernardi), an alto castrato who was to sing seventeen roles in Handel’s operas and oratorios. “Bel contento,” Guido’s reflection on his recently announced betrothal, contrasts a sprightly staccato melody in the violins against Senesino’s celebrated messa di voce (a sustained note that grows and recedes in volume), as well as his penchant for extended coloratura in both dotted and triplet rhythms in the middle register of his voice.