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Noon Edition

Handel: Admeto Excerpt

True divas are notoriously temperamental, and when the mood strikes them, they can behave very badly indeed. But even the worst of them was no match for Handel! Francesca Cuzzoni was already a big deal in Italy when she made her London debut in 1723. At a rehearsal for her premiere Cuzzoni refused to sing one of her arias. Flying into a rage, the composer picked her up bodily and threatened to throw her through a window. Their working relationship apparently improved somewhat over time. But: once a diva, always a diva. Soon, a vicious and well-publicized rivalry sprung up between Cuzzoni and soprano Faustina Bordoni. Handel cleverly played upon this rivalry by casting the sopranos as onstage rivals, as in this scene from Admeto, where their characters vie for the affection of the king.

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