Giovanni Paolo Colonna (1637-1695)

Among the thirteen oratorios by Giovanni Paolo Colonna, more than half are connected, by their origin or at least by tradition, to the court of Francesco II d’Este.
Although in the early modern period the sacredness of monarchy was indisputable, we cannot take it for granted that an oratorio – unlike an opera, as was usually the case – was offered to a monarch in order to praise him unconditionally.
In many oratorio librettos, the monarch and spectator (who was also the patron and dedicatee) was actually confronted with the perils of his role, the faults of his predecessors, the renunciation of his personal freedom, and the momentousness of his office, over which God’s will and Christ’s model loomed.
So while operas were often an instrument of applause, oratorios were often an instrument of admonition. This last aspect is fully expressed in L’Assalonne, drawn from the Second Book of Samuel in the biblical Old Testament.
Absalom attempts to seize power in the Kingdom of Israel by dethroning his father David. In the decisive battle, although the legitimate king has ordered his troops not to harm his rebellious son, the latter, whose long hair gets tangled in the branches of a tree leaving him hanging there while his horse moves on, is stabbed to death by general Joab.
David grieves for his son, but Joab admonishes him: the king must not show love for a person who has attacked him, or scorn for a person who has saved him.
This rebuke reminds David of his duty as a king; he moves towards the door, and his subjects gather once more in front of him. In Bergamori’s libretto the original fabula is transposed faithfully: the few changes depend on the wish to follow Aristotle’s unities (which are absent in the biblical stories) as much as possible.


1. Coro All’armi, a battaglia Tutti
2. Recitativo Duci, amici guerrieri Assalonne
3. Aria Se il suo crine mi porge la sorte Assalonne
4. Recitativo Pria che la nova aurora Achitofele
5. Aria Fra l’armi, | fra carmi Achitofele
6. Recitativo Ohimè, qual di timore Assalonne, Achitofele
7. A 2 Sù dunque, guerrieri Assalonne, Achitofele
8. Recitativo Il rimbombo de l’armi Testo, Consigliere, Davide
9. Aria Se sempre sì fiere Davide
10. Recitativo Assalonne, mio figlio, oh Dio, tu dunque Davide
11. Aria All’occaso ormai cadente Davide
12. Recitativo Tali d’un padre amante Testo
13. Aria Contro un figlio s’impugni la spada Ioabbe
14. Recitativo Ioabbe, oh Dio, non regni Davide, Ioabbe
15. Aria S’opponga agl’audaci Ioabbe
16. Aria Fra tempeste al mare in seno Davide
17. Recitativo Ma pur d’opposti affetti Davide
18. Aria Per te sempre immota Consigliere
19. Recitativo E tu per or sospendi Davide, Testo
20. Coro D’allori, | d’onori Tutti
21. Sinfonia
22. Recitativo Del Libano odoroso Assalonne
23. Aria Entro all’armi un nobil core Assalonne
24. Recitativo Sì, si siegua Davidde Assalonne, Achitofele, Consigliere
25. Aria Al suono guerriero Assalonne
26. Recitativo Così, per divertire Testo
27. Aria Ma se d’Icaro nel volo Testo
28. Recitativo Già nel campo fatale Testo
29. Aria Ascondetemi, involatemi Davide
30. Recitativo Ma che dissi? Se il Cielo Davide, Ioabbe, Testo
31. Aria A incontrar nove corone Assalonne
32. Recitativo Ohimè, chi mi trattiene Assalonne, Ioabbe, Testo, Consigliere, Davide
33. Aria Caro figlio, amata prole Davide, Ioabbe
34. Recitativo Ioabbe, oh Dio, col figlio Davide, Ioabbe
35. Coro Al soglio reale Tutti

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