Last updated: Apr. 6, 2000
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Georg Friedrich Händel

THE CHOICE OF HERCULES

(1751)

A Musical Interlude

Words by Thomas Morell

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Hercules (alto)

Pleasure (soprano)

Virtue (soprano)

An Attendant on Pleasure (tenor)

Chorus


1. Symphony

2. Accompagnato

Pleasure
See, Hercules, how smiles yon myrtle plain,
Where num'rous sparkling rills meand'ring glide!
'Tis there I fix my jocund reign,
'Tis there my laughing train reside.
There smokes the feast, enhanc'd by music's sound,
Fittest to tune the melting soul to love;
Rich odours breathing choicest sweets around,
The fragrant bower, cool fountain, shady grove;
Thither thy happy footsteps will I lead,
Fresh flow'rs shall bind thy brow,
Fresh flow'rs shall strew thy bed.

3. Air

Pleasure
Come, blooming boy, with me repair
To these ambrosial scenes of peace;
There bid adieu to noise and care,
Embath'd in bliss and wrapt in ease.

4. Air

Pleasure
There the brisk sparkling nectar drain,
Cool'd with the purest summer snows,
There, tir'd with sporting on the plain,
Beneath the woodbine's shade repose.
There, as serene thou liest along,
Soft warbling voices melting lays
Shall sweetly pour the tender song
To love or beauty's rapt'rous praise.

5. Solo and Chorus

Pleasure
While for thy arms that beauty glows,
That love awakes its purest fire,
And to each ravish'd sense bestows
All that can raise or sate desire.

Chorus
Seize, seize these blessings, blooming boy,
For all these blessings are thy own!
Be hail'd the rose-crown'd king of joy,
And reign on pleasure's downy throne.

6. Recitative

Virtue
Away, mistaken wretch, away!
To baser ears go trill thy languid lay;
Go, to thy revels let the fools repair,
To such go smooth thy speech, and spread thy tempting snare.

7. Air

Virtue
This manly youth's exalted mind,
Above thy grov'lling taste refin'd,
Shall listen to my awful voice.
His childhood, in its earliest rise,
Bespoke him gen'rous, brave and wise,
And manhood shall confirm his choice.

8. Recitative

Virtue
Rise, youth, exalt thyself and me! Approve
Thy high descent from Heav'n, and dare be worthy Jove.

9. Air

Virtue
Go, assert thy heav'nly race,
Ev'ry danger boldly face;
Level pride's high-plumed crest,
And bravely succour the distrest.

10. Recitative

Virtue
In peace, in war pursue thy country's good,
Bare thy bold breast for her, and pour thy gen'rous blood.

11. Solo and Chorus

Virtue
So shalt thou gain immortal praise.

Chorus
The golden trump of fame,
Its loudest notes shall raise,
And 'mid the gods enroll thy name.
So shalt thou gain immortal praise!

12. Recitative

Pleasure
Hearst thou, what dangers then thou must engage?
Dangers, that ill befit thy tender age,
That tender age, which was but meant to prove
The sweet vicissitudes of joy and love.

13. Solo and Chorus

Pleasure
Turn thee, youth, to joy and love;
Why, ah, why this fond delay?
Haste these blissful meads to rove,
Gentle youth, oh, haste away!

Chorus
Why, ah, why this fond delay?

14. Recitative

Pleasure
Short is my way, fair, easy, smooth and plain.
Turn, gentle youth, with me eternal pleasures reign!

Hercules
Oh, cease, enchanting siren, cease thy song!
I dare not, must not join thy festive throng.

15. Air

Hercules
Yet can I hear that dulcet Iay,
As sweet as flows the honey dew?
Can I those wilds of joy survey,
Nor wish to share the bliss I view?

16. Air

Attendant on Pleasure
Enjoy the sweet Elysian grove,
Seat of pleasure, seat of love;
Pleasure that can never cloy,
Love to source of endless joy.

17. Recitative

Hercules
Oh, whither, reason, dost thou fly?
Purge the soft charm that fascinates my eye.

18. Trio

Hercules
Where shall I go?

Pleasure
To yonder breezy plain!
There sweetly swim in pleasure's winding stream.

Hercules
Where shall I go?

Virtue
To yonder lofty fane!
There brightly bask in virtue's radiant beam.

Hercules
Where, where shall I go?

19. Accompagnato

Virtue
Mount, mount the steep ascent,
Obey my voice, and live!
Let thy celestial birth lift and enlarge thy thoughts;
Behold the way that leads to fame,
And raises thee from earth immortal.
Lo, I guide thy steps arise!

20. Air

Virtue
Mount, mount the steep ascent,
And claim thy native skies!

21. Chorus

Arise, arise!
Mount, mount the steep ascent,
And claim thy native skies!

22. Recitative

Hercules
The sounds breathe fire celestial, and impart
Immortal vigour to my glowing heart.

23. Air

Hercules
Lead, goddess, lead the way!
Thy awful pow'r, supremely wise,
Shall guide me with its sacred ray
To yonder lucid skies;
Shall lift me to the blest abode,
Crown'd with immortal youth, among the gods a god.

24. Chorus

Virtue will place thee in that blest abode,
Crown'd with immortal youth, among the Gods a God.