Queen Partenope, ruler of Naples, is looking for a husband. Many suitors have arrived hoping to win the hand of the queen, and she takes her time choosing the most eligible. Firstly, there’s Armindo, the Prince of Rhodes. He’s very sweet and patient, but does not quite match up to some of the others. Then there is Emilio, Prince of Cumae. He is far too bold, turning up with an army and threats of war if he is rejected. Prince Arsace of Corinth, however, has quite taken Partenope’s favor so far, that is until the young nobleman Eurimene arrived. There is just something unusual about him which is so enticing to the queen. But, this might be a problem; Eurimene is actually Rosmira in disguise. She has come to Naples in search of Arsace. The two had been engaged until Arsace fancied himself as a favorite of the queen, and Rosmira has to know whether he still loves her, without accidentally leading the queen on, or revealing her disguise.
Handel’s Partenope is one of Handel’s few comedies, although it would perhaps be better described as semi-seria. and an underappreciated masterpiece, with some really show-stopping arias.