San Francisco Opera may have already reached the zenith of this season (most reviewers thought so) with Händel’s one and only “comic” opera Xerxes from 1738 – a serious composition with slight comedy touches. Like so many baroque operas, Xerxes deals with kings and courtiers, power and passion, in an exotic, allegorical way. The anonymous libretto tells about the Persian king with very few historical references. What is important here is that Xerxes obsesses over his brother’s sweetheart and thinks he will be preferable to her because he is the king. Even a king with the eponym “The Great” sometimes has to learn the humbling lessons of humanity. The rest of the story follows the pattern of A loves B who loves C who is coveted by D, and ends with B marrying C while A must marry E whom he doesn’t love but who loves him. There is a juicy role for a servant of the aristocracy, and you can see Mozart’s Figaro and Don Giovanni and Rossini’s Barber come right out of this Händel with its amusing libretto and inspired music.
Read on at: http://www.scene4.com/1211/renatestendhal1211.html