Am listening to Handel's Theodora...

While doing some minor housekeeping on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. I believe this is his single oratorio that takes as its literal subject a Christian martyr, the eponymous heroine become a saint; there are passages of beauty, as there always are in Handel, but I think that it must not be classed with his greatest works. Still, Thomas Morell, the librettist, did give us this immortal riposte to a tyrant's arbitrary power: 

Be that my doom. You may inflict it here,
With legal justice, there 'tis cruelty.
If blood your angry laws require, behold,
The principal is come to pay the debt:
And welcome sure to Romans the exchange,
A warlike hero for an helpless maid.

Theodora is contrasting her Roman and Christian acceptance of the capital penalty ('legal justice') with her Christian and Roman disdain for the repugnant sexual crime ('there 'tis cruelty') that Valens has allowed  as her 'other option'. If I'm recalling the plot correctly. 

'As with rosy steps the Morn' tends to be the aria that people remember from Theodora


I looked up 'principal', wondering if there were some particular 18th c meaning of the word. Is Handel the only composer ever to write a part for a third trumpet, the 'principal'? It seems unlikely on its face but I'm far from being even an incipient scholar of historical scores and their composition. 

The name of a trumpet part used in the scores of Handel; the trumpet itself. Obsolete. 


The Oxford English Dictionary proceeds to make it clear that the term is in origin German and that it was used by others in those countries. It may have referred specifically to the tromba, a small-bored trumpet, distinguishing it from the more modern large-bored trumpet. Wikipedia succeeded in confusing me without providing any information about trombas, beyond noting that the name exists in Provençal and Italian. I did allow myself to be sidetracked onto the subjects of marine-trumpets and the band Corvus Corax, the latter because one of its members performs with a marine-trumpet. Omnes spiritus laudet Dominum.