Di Trionfo in Trionfo: indizi sull’immaginario iconografico del
primo oratorio händeliano
Handel’s oratorio La Bellezza raveduta [sic] nel trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, composed in 1707 during the composer’s stay in Rome, chooses the Allegory of Time as its visual core. Representations of Time, covering a rich variety of iconographical models, had an important place in baroque imagery. This kind of topos, while belonging to pagan and mythological heritage, was firmly established in the milieu of Roman-Catholic high culture, and found an important support in the literary tradition of preaching. The literary, linguistic, and iconographical richness of what was allegedly Cardinal Pamphili’s libretto has already prompted a number of hermeneutical approaches (Mary Ann Parker, Ursula Kirkendale, Huub van der Linden, Ellen T. Harris). This article aims to detect the most important themes and ideological patterns of the text, establishing a connection with the visual arts, which were at the heart of Pamphili’s cultural interests. In Handel’s Trionfo, the relationship between Time, Beauty and Pleasure acquires a new meaning, thanks to the new dramatic role of music as represented by the organ sonata (a composition performed by Handel himself in Rome) in the fictional plan of the plot. This experience left a long-lasting mark on the composer, who kept the task of playing organ entractes between the parts of his later English oratorios for himself. Il trionfo was notably performed in London (1737-1739) in a revised version including further instrumental pieces: Handel defined this version as «Entertainment of Musick».