Giovanni Bononcini

Giovanni Bononcini

(born July 18, 1670, Modena, Duchy of Modena—died July 9, 1747, Vienna), composer, chiefly remembered as Handel’s rival in England. He studied with his father, composer and theoretician Giovanni Maria Bononcini, and later at Bologna. Precocious musical gifts won him his first appointment, as a cellist, in 1687, and he soon became maestro di cappella of S. Giovanni in Monte. He moved to Rome about 1691 and in 1698, after a brief period in Venice, settled in Vienna with his brother, the composer Antonio Maria Bononcini.

In 1720 he was invited to London by the new operatic organization, the Royal Academy of Music. His rivalry with Handel and their backing by opposed political and social factions ended in defeat for Bononcini. His backers were a group of noblemen; Handel was backed by the king. A three-act opera, Muzio Scevola, was looked upon as a public competition, with Bononcini and Handel composing the second and third acts, respectively. Handel was judged the winner. This reverse and others led to Bononcini’s loss of support.

Eight of his operas were produced in London, the most successful being Astarto, Crispo, and Griselda. Other compositions of this period include an anthem on the death (1722) of the Duke of Marlborough and harpsichord and chamber music. In the early 1730s he went to Paris, leaving England in disgrace after submitting to the Academy of Ancient Music as his own composition a madrigal actually written by Antonio Lotti. His last work, Te Deum, was written in Vienna in the 1740s.

Though he was a prolific and gifted composer, Bononcini’s abilities are dwarfed by comparison with Handel’s. Only in opera, where both used the same highly conventionalized idiom, are the two men comparable. Nonetheless, Bononcini achieved a simple and fluent melodic style and the ability to write well for his singers.
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Bononcini: 2 duetti da camera
Forces: sop, alto/alto, alto & continuo

The two duetti da camera from the 1721 edition 'Cantate e Duetti dedicati alla Sacra Maestà di Giorgio Rè della Gran Bretagna'

Pietoso Nume Arcier (2 altos & continuo)
Luci barbare spietate (soprano, alto & continuo)

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Editor: James Sanderson

2 chamber duets
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Bononcini: 3 alto cantate con violini
Forces: alto, violins & continuo

The three alto cantate con violini from the 1721 edition 'Cantate e Duetti dedicati alla Sacra Maestà di Giorgio Rè della Gran Bretagna'

Care luci del mio bene
Misero pastorello
Siedi Amarilli mia

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Editor: James Sanderson

3 cantate à voce sola di contralto con violini
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Bononcini: 3 alto cantate da camera
Forces: alto & continuo

The three alto cantate da camera from the 1721 edition 'Cantate e Duetti dedicati alla Sacra Maestà di Giorgio Rè della Gran Bretagna'

Gia la stagion d'amore
Lasciami un sol momento
O mesta tortorella

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Editor: James Sanderson

3 cantate à voce sola di contralto
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Bononcini: 3 soprano cantate con violini
Forces: soprano, violins & continuo

The three soprano cantate con violini from the 1721 edition 'Cantate e Duetti dedicati alla Sacra Maestà di Giorgio Rè della Gran Bretagna'

Barbara ninfa ingrata
Ecco Dorinda il giorno
Il Lamento d'Olimpia

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Editor: James Sanderson

3 cantate à voce sola di soprano con violini
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Bononcini: 3 soprano cantate da camera
Forces: soprano & continuo

The three soprano cantate da camera from the 1721 edition 'Cantate e Duetti dedicati alla Sacra Maestà di Giorgio Rè della Gran Bretagna'

Da te che pasci ogn'ora
Dolente e mesta
O frondoso arboscello

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Editor: James Sanderson

3 cantate à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: All'or che il cieco nume
Forces: soprano & continuo

'...it is better to have loved and lost...' could easily be the motto of this cantata. Despite pleading to Cupid for mercy the 'blind God' remains silent and leaves the protagonists to their misery. RARARAR format

Source: BL Add 31547 f25r - 33r

Range: e - a''

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: Alle sue pene intorno
Forces: soprano, violins & continuo

As they say, 'Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned...' Filli has been rejected by her lover and although she at first threatens all manner of pain to Cupid, she then calls for the furies to bring her poison to end her suffering. In RARA format, the first aria a witty Minuet, the second a two-tempo allegro then largo. Single Unisoni violin part.

Source: BL Add 31518 13r - 16r

Range: d - a flat'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano con violini
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Bononcini: Amo, e ridir nol posso
Forces: soprano & continuo

To love and not be able to express it cannot be an easy thing. Suffering, burning, the flames and pains of love. In RARA format, the arias a sweet largo and a bright vivace.

Source: BL Add MS 31545

Range: e - g#'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: Amo, peno, gioisco
Forces: soprano & continuo

"I love, I suffer, I rejoice..." Once again our happy/sad lover is back with his masochistic take on love. In RARA format with two great arias, the first with some double-stopping in the continuo, this is another delightful cantata by Mr Bononcini.

Source: Münster Santini Sammlung Hs 895 (5)

Range: c - g'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: Amor, tiranno amor
Forces: soprano & continuo

A very strict warning about trusting in the fidelity of Cupid. Tyrannous Love has been causing mischief again in this ARARA format cantata. In the copy all the da capo sections have been written out in full with varied style of repeat. Perhaps an aural copy as there are no figures...

Source: BL Add 31518 9r

Range: d - g'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: Anche i tronchi
Forces: soprano & continuo

'Even the trees and rocks know of my suffering - only you ignore it'. The demanding cello part especially in aria 2 reflects the virtuosity of the composer Bononcini (presumably Giovanni). A-R-A-R-A

Sources: MÜs 3903 & BL Add MS 31547

Range: d'-g''

Editor: Rosalind Halton

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: Anche i tronchi
Forces: alto & continuo

'Even the trees and rocks know of my suffering - only you ignore it'. The demanding cello part especially in aria 2 reflects the virtuosity of the composer Bononcini (presumably Giovanni). A-R-A-R-A

Sources: MÜs 3903 & BL Add MS 31547

Alto: g-c''

Editor: Rosalind Halton
Cantata à voce sola di contralto
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Bononcini: Barbara ninfa ingrata
Forces: soprano, violins & continuo

Tirsi is railing at Clori in this large, dramatic cantata. She has gone off and left him again and he wants his life to end. Such drama! 3-part prelude, then RARA format.

Source: 1721 edition in British Library

Range: d - b flat''

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola con violini
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Bononcini: Care luci del mio bene
Forces: alto, violins & continuo

"Dear eyes of my beloved, you would be more beautiful still if you had some pity for me..." Nice is not being nice (again), nevertheless her erstwhile suitor remains faithful and hopes for her pity on his plight. ARA format with some stylish writing for both voice and violins.

Source: 1721 edition in the British Library

Range: a - e'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di contralto con violini
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Bononcini: Ch'io ti manchi di fede
Forces: tenor & continuo

A large cantata edited from the Chandos collection copy in the British library. Unusual in that it's a contemporary copy from before 1720 (the date of the donation of the collection) for tenor. The transposition has provided some odd crossing of parts. Diverse aria structures (including a non-da capo aria) and interesting harmonic progressions.

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di tenore
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Bononcini: Cieco nume tiranno spietato
Forces: soprano & continuo

One of Bononcini's most beautiful cantatas, the subject here deals with Love's blind cruelty. In 5 sections with no da capo arias and with a recurring theme of the title text, the last section presto assai is particularly virtuosic, though broken by emotional largo sections.

Source: BL Add MS 31546 f74v-79r

Range: c# - g'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: Clori bell' idol mio
Forces: alto & continuo

Bononcini at his sinuous best here. In RARA format with two affettuoso arias singing of the tears that fall from being parted from the beloved 'Clori my beautiful idol, I am a faithful lover of your beauty'.

Source: Naples Conservatorio

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di contralto
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Bononcini: Clori, mi sento al core
Forces: soprano & continuo

A story about the close relationship between pain and pleasure in love. Clori is the inspiration again! In RARARARA format - yes it's a long one... Lovely text, varied arias, expressive recitatives.

Source: BL Add MS 31547 f47r - 53r

Range: e - g'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: Clori, mio ben mia vita
Forces: soprano & continuo

Clori had quite a hold over her men! Here our erstwhile suitor complains of the joy she takes in causing him pain and suffering. RARA format, the first recit being particularly expressive. Both arias in triple time with slightly off-beat word setting.

Source: BL Add MS 31545

Range: d# - b flat'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
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Bononcini: Da te che pasci ogn'ora
Forces: soprano & continuo

Here our protagonist is literally wanting to die for love. Once more a rejected suit leads him to suffer so! In RARA format with a sinuous first aria Affettuoso, e cantabile and an excellent vivace to finish.

Source: British Library copy of the 1721 edition

Range: e - a''

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
£4.95
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