We asked mezzo-soprano Anna Stephany (Serse) and counter-tenor Rupert Enticknap (Arsamene) to pick their favourite arias from Handel’s tragicomic opera Serse. There’s never a dull moment!

Take a listen to snippets of these arias from our 3CD set of the opera here, or to hear this beguiling opera in its full glory, try here for tickets to our 18 November concert performance, or here for the full CD.

Which track would you choose? Tweet us @earlyopera with #Serse

Anna: “Serse is proud and pompous and gets what he wants but to me he is also hugely likeable. Despite behaving like an idiot throughout most of the opera, he shows a very sensitive side when he sings about the beauty of a tree outside his window in the famous and memorable ‘Ombra mai fu‘ (Act 1, scene 1; track 3), often known as ‘Largo‘, at the beginning of the opera.

In the aria ‘Piu che penso‘ (Act 1, scene 11: track 26), although he is prematurely and rather arrogantly celebrating his love for Romilda, the music is exquisite and we are led to hope that he might have some real feelings of love hidden somewhere inside! His last aria ‘Crude furie‘ (Act 3, scene 11; track 92) is a spectacular and thrilling vent of frustration, when he realises that the bumbling Ariodate has messed up once again and that his beloved Romilda has finally married Arsamenes.”

Rupert:  “My favourite Arsamenes aria is actually the shortest in the whole piece. The arioso that comes before Arsamenes’ final blowout with his brother Xerxes, ‘Per dar fine alla mia pena’ (Act 2, scene 9: track 61), is very simple yet heart rending, accompanied only by cello and continuo, showing that often the continuo arias in Handel’s operas are the most magical.  And then, the duet in act 3 between Arsamenes and Romilda ‘Troppo oltraggi la mia fede‘ (Act 3, scene 9; track 87) is a classic couples row!”