Opera Scotland

Poro, re dell' Indie Poro; Porus, King of India

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George Frideric Handel (born Halle, 23 February 1685; died London, 14 April 1759)


Adapted from libretto Alessandro nell’ Indie (1729) by Pietro Metastasio (Pietro Trapassi 1698-1782).


Play Alexandre le Grand (1665) by Jean Racine (1639-99). 



First performance: London (King’s Theatre, Haymarket), 2 February 1731,

First UK performance: As above.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Festival Theatre), 20 August 2003 (concert).

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



The libretto by Metastasio, which was adapted for Poro, was a very recent one, and the opera itself was so successful that Handel revived it in two subsequent seasons, during which he continued to make modifications. In spite of this, it has been one of the least performed of his major works in recent years. This does not reflect the quality of the work, but it is at last realised that Handel wrote a considerable number of excellent operas, which are quite capable of being performed successfully under modern conditions. Whether Poro will recover its popularity in competition with these remains to be seen.



Alessandro - Alexander the Great (tenor)

Cleofide, an Indian princess (soprano)

Poro - Porus, King of India  (alto)

Gandarte  (alto)

Timagene, a Greek captain  (bass)

Erissena, sister of Poro (mezzo-soprano)


Plot Summary

The easternmost leg of Alexander the Great’s conquests, when his troops were becoming increasingly homesick, saw him win a victory in northern India over the forces of Porus. The king fled, leaving his sister Erissena and his intended wife Cleofide behind. He assumes a disguise in order to keep in contact with events. Erissena is captured by the Greeks, but received with generosity by Alexander. Cleofide then approaches him, and is also received with humanity. At this point, Porus, enraged by jealousy, and misinterpreting Cleofide’s motives, tries to assassinate Alexander. His attempt is foiled and he is imprisoned. Timagene, leading the faction of Greeks opposed to Alexander, helps Porus to escape, and word is put about that he has been killed. Alexander arranges to marry Cleofide, but she tells him that she would rather join her lover Porus in death. This is overheard by Porus, who had been planning another attempt on Alexander’s life, and Porus now surrenders, realising he had misjudged Cleofide. Alexander forgives him, and allows them to marry and resume power.

The Cast

 Alexander the Great
 an Indian princess
 Poro's sister
 Porus, King of India
 a Greek captain

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