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Where shall I seek the charming fair?

Opera details:

Opera title:

Acis and Galatea


Georg Handel




Acis and Galatea Synopsis


Acis and Galatea Libretto



Aria details:









Previous scene: Hush ye pretty warbling quire
Next scene: Love in her eyes sits playing

HÄNDEL • 'Where shall I seek the charming fair' (Acis & Galatea HWV 49b)

Singer: Paul Agnew

ACIS AND GALATEA HWV 49b: Serenata in two Acts (1739 version)
Libretto by John Gay and others (perhaps Alexander Pope and John Hughes), after Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
First performance at Cannons, Little Stanmore, Middlesex, in 1718.

[At 1732, June 10, first performance in London, King's Theatre, Haymarket (4 performances to 20 June), Francesco Bernardi, called "Senesino" (alto-castrato) was performed the role of Acis.]

AIR (Larghetto) "Where shall I seek the charming fair?"

Where shall I seek the charming fair?
Direct the way, kind genius of the mountains!
O tell me, if you saw my dear!
Seeks she the grove, or bathes in crystal fountains?
Where. . . Da capo

german translation:
Wo find'ich sic, die mir so lieb?
Geleitet mich ihr Götter dieser Fluren!
O sag mir, wisst ihr wo sie blieb?
Saht ihr im Thal, im Walde ihre Spuren?
Wo: Da capo

ACIS: Paul Agnew (Tenor)
Les Arts Florissants & William Christie

(William Christie's version follows the one that Händel used for a 1739)

Acis and Galatea (Mythology)
The Story of the love of Acis and the Sea-Nymph Galatea appears in Ovid's Metamorphoses. There the jealous Cyclops Polyphemus, who also loves Galatea, comes upon them embracing and crushes his rival with a boulder. His destructive passion comes to nothing when Galatea changes Acis into a river spirit as immortal as herself. The episode was made the subject of poems, operas, paintings and statues in the Renaissance and after.
A Story of Love and Destructive Jealousy

Händel set the Myth about the love of the Shepherd Acis for the Sea Nymph Galatea from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” a total of three times: in the Cantata “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo” HWV 72 (1708), the Masque “Acis and Galatea” HWV 49a (1718) and finally the pasticcio-like Serenata “Acis and Galatea” HWV 49b (1732) of which the original version is now made available in its complete form for the first time.
He later adapted the original English work into its two-act form in 1739.
A particular Charm is provided by the use of two languages in the Serenata. The work was originally conceived in English, as was required for the first performance. However, Handel’s Italian singers were criticised for their poor command of English, – so in the end, many numbers were sung in Italian.

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Full libretto Acis and Galatea

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Full English translation Acis and Galatea