Handel's Largo

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"Handel's Largo" is the popular title for an aria composed by George Frideric Handel. He wrote it in 1738 for the opera Serse (English: Xerxes). The opera was a failure. It closed after only five performances. One hundred years later though the aria was resurrected. It became a big hit. It was performed at solemn occasions such as funerals and weddings. It was arranged for all sorts of instruments and voices. It is known by many people as "Ombra mai fu" because those words are the first words of the aria. The title is Italian, and means "Never was a shade". The aria is sung by the main character, Xerxes I of Persia. He is admiring the shade of a tree. The original tempo is larghetto (a little slow and solemn). The aria is short. It is only 52 bars long. It lasts about four minutes. In the opera, a string section accompanies the singer. These strings are first and second violins, viola, and basses. The key signature is F major. The time signature is 3/4 time.

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