209
209
Handel, George Frideric
EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLISH MANUSCRIPT OF THE OPERA BERENICE, IN THE HAND OF HANDEL COPYIST "S2", FROM THE LIBRARY OF CHARLES JENNENS, HANDEL'S PATRON AND LIBRETTIST OF MESSIAH, AND ANNOTATED BY HIM
Estimate
25,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 44,450 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
209
Handel, George Frideric
EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLISH MANUSCRIPT OF THE OPERA BERENICE, IN THE HAND OF HANDEL COPYIST "S2", FROM THE LIBRARY OF CHARLES JENNENS, HANDEL'S PATRON AND LIBRETTIST OF MESSIAH, AND ANNOTATED BY HIM
Estimate
25,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 44,450 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts

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Handel, George Frideric
EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLISH MANUSCRIPT OF THE OPERA BERENICE, IN THE HAND OF HANDEL COPYIST "S2", FROM THE LIBRARY OF CHARLES JENNENS, HANDEL'S PATRON AND LIBRETTIST OF MESSIAH, AND ANNOTATED BY HIM
the scribal full score of the opera in three acts, notated in brown ink on up to ten staves per page, scored for voices and orchestra (strings, oboes, bassoons and continuo), with figured bass throughout (and with a few additional figures added by Charles Jennens), including the overture, the arias, ariosos and recitatives, and the final Coro, and with extensive stage directions, with the title page "Berenice Opera Composta per il Sgr G:F: Handel/ Comminciato Decembr: 15 1736", and with the end of each act dated, the note at the end reading: "Jan: 18 1737 and finished to fill up the Instrument parts: Jan: 27 1737/ G:F:H:", these dates apparently copied directly from the composer's autograph manuscript, this copy lacking Berenice's aria (no.30), 'Avvertite mie pupille'

297 pages, oblong 4to (22.3 x 29cm), 10-stave paper, watermarks of a fleur-de-lys & "IV", and of a Strassburg bend & "LVG", together with blank pages and a later manuscript leaf loosely inserted, contemporary half calf with marbled boards, with Jennens's characteristic shelfmark in black ink on the front pastedown ("N X / 15"), and later numbers in orange crayon (Ms 56) and on a label (715), probably 1740s, binding broken, the covers detached, the spine largely defective, some pages loose (but apparently without loss to text), some light foxing
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Provenance

Charles Jennens, with his shelfmark on front pastedown; Heneage, 3rd Earl of Aylesford and thence by descent; sale in our rooms, 13 May 1918, lot 204 (sold in a lot including "MS scores of Tamerlano, Teseo, Silla, Semele, Berenice, and Siroe; also Cembalo & six parts of Silla, Amadis, and Radamisto... [10/- to Lewine]").

Literature

J.H Roberts, "The Aylesford Collection", in Handel Collections and Their History (1993), edited by T. Best (pp.39-85), see pages 45 and 83.  The present manuscript is that listed on page 83, among the "manuscripts not yet located".

Catalogue Note

This is an important, lost Handel source, an early full score of a complete opera by Handel, written by a copyist from Handel's own circle.  It was once owned by Handel's great patron and librettist Charles Jennens, and is untraced since sold in our rooms in 1918.

This full score was written by the scribe "S2", from the circle of Handel's amanuensis John Christopher Smith.  He is a known (if otherwise unidentified) copyist, used by Handel for important manuscripts in the Royal Music Library (including the Royal Library copy of Alessandro, British Library: R.M. 19.c.3), the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the largest surviving part of Charles Jennens's collection now at Manchester Public Library (Newman Flower collection).

The principal manuscript full scores of Berenice are Handel's autograph manuscript in the British Library (R.M.20.a.10), and his conducting score (copied by his amanuensis J.C. Smith) now in Hamburg.  Other contemporary scribal copies are in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (by the scribe "S5") and in Manchester Public Library.  The first edition by John Walsh dates from June 1737, and contains only 82 pages. 

The main characters are Berenice, queen of Egypt (soprano), her sister Selene (alto), Berenice's beloved Alessandro (soprano), Selene's beloved Demetrio (alto) and Arsace, who is in love with Selene (alto).   The opera suffered alterations before the first peformance at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden on 18 May 1737, however this manuscript contains the original version of Demetrio's well-known Act 2 aria 'Sì, tra i ceppi e le ritorte', in C minor.  Berenice's great aria in Act 3 'Chi t'intende' is here marked "Allegro".

Charles Jennens (1700-1773), the librettist of Messiah, Saul and other works, was a wealthy landowner in Leicestershire. He subscribed to all Handel's works and commissioned many manuscript scores and playing parts for his own private collection at Gopsall.  This was the largest contemporary collection of Handel's works, preserving several pieces that would otherwise have been lost, and from which some volumes in the Royal Music Library were in fact copied.  Jennens often annotated his scores, by adding to the figured bass, presumably for his own use, as here in Act One, Demetrio's aria 'Se il mio amor fù il tuo delitto'.  Jennens bequeathed his Handel scores to his cousin the 3rd Earl of Aylesford, whose collection was eventually sold by his heirs at Sotheby's in 1918.

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