Xerxes (including Ombra Mai Fu)
George Frideric Handel
The opera most famous for 'Ombra mai fu' climbs 55 chart places this year
A short sortie into the plot of Xerxes brings home how little entertainment has changed over the centuries. Today, we can't get enough of our costume dramas replete with steamy characters, set against backdrops of ancient intrigues.
Well, Xerxes follows pretty much the same formula. It focuses on a particular supposedly accurate point in the life of the Persian King Xerxes I (who lived from 485 BC to 465 BC). Indeed, it contains one or two other moments that are said to be true. But, beyond them, Handel allows his librettist to suspend time, and to engage in a largely invented gossipy plot. The music, though, is simply divine, especially if one is hearing a version using the original idea of Xerxes as a counter-tenor, rather than the female voice so often used today.
Listen to Classic FM online, on air and on the go
Discover more ways to enjoy the nation's favourite classical music station, wherever you are, from listening on your digital radio to downloading our free app for smart phones and tablets.
The Movie Music Hall of Fame
Discover the nation's favourite film soundtracks in the Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame, featuring music by John Williams, Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer.
Don't miss the Classic FM Hall of Fame Hour
Join John Suchet for an hour of the very best classical music, from full-blooded Romantic concertos to delicate Classical miniatures.
Browse Halls of Fame past
Discover more about our annual chart and explore Halls of Fame past, as far back as 1996.