Sheet Music: Largo

from Xerxes
Alternate titlesOmbra mai fù
Opus numberHWV 40
ComposerGeorge Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
InstrumentationFlute and Strings
KeyF major
Time signature3/4
Tempo64 BPM
Performance time2:30
Difficulty levelintermediate
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (87 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (2.1 MB)
Play-along accompanimentMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (2.1 MB)
Date added2009-09-20
Last updated2009-09-20
Download popularity index☆☆☆☆☆ 1.5 (average)
Arias, Baroque, Opera excerpts, Wedding music


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Sunday 20 September 2009

Tune of the Day: Largo from Xerxes

Gerge Frideric Handel's aria “Ombra mai fù”

“Ombra mai fù” is the first aria of G.F. Handel's opera Xerxes. It is sung by the main character, Serse (Xerxes), in praise of a tree's shade as he sits underneath it. It is commonly known as Handel's “Largo”, although the original tempo was larghetto.

Never has there been a shade
of a plant
more dear and lovely,
or more gentle.

The opera was a commercial failure when it came out, lasting only five performances in London after its premiere. In the 19th century, however, this aria was rediscovered and became one of Handel's best-known pieces. Originally composed to be sung by a soprano castrato (and sung in modern performances of the opera by a countertenor or a mezzo-soprano), it has often been arranged for other voice types and instruments.