Ariodante and his beloved Ginevra are set to get married tomorrow. Her father, the King of Scotland, has welcomed Ariodante into the family as his own son, and everything looks promising for the future. But, the Duke Polinesso cannot bear to lose Ginevra to another man, and is hurt by her cruel and constant rejection of him. When he finds out that Ginevra’s handmaid, Dalinda is in love with him, Polinesso seizes the opportunity to manipulate her, and devises a plot to get exactly what he wants.
Polinesso tells Dalinda to disguise herself as Ginevra and arranges for the two of them to meet in the night. Just as Ariodante is taking a walk in the garden Polinesso approaches Ginevra’s door. Ariodante watches his beloved Ginevra permit another man to enter her apartment in the night, and his heart is broken by the betrayal. He runs to the cliffs and throws himself into the sea in despair.
When the news of Ariodante’s death reaches the King, and a witness comes forward who claims that Ginevra caused it, the King is forced to sign his own daughter’s death warrant. Polinesso’s plan now comes into fruition, and he steps forward to defend Ginevra’s innocence in a tournament.
During the tournament, Polinesso takes a mortal wound. The challenge is opened to anyone else willing to defend Ginevra’s innocence, and an unknown man steps forward. The man reveals himself as Ariodante; incredibly he survived the fall, and is here to prove Ginevra’s innocence.
Handel’s Ariodante is a beautiful story of love triumphing over evil, which showcases some of his most well-known arias, including Ariodante’s ‘Scherza infida’ and ‘Dopo notte, atra e funesta’.
Ariodante guide sections