March from Scipio (Handel, arr. Sparke)

Handelís opera Scipio was written in 1725 and performed the following year in the Kingís Theatre, London. In 1710 the composer had become Kapellmeister to George, Elector of Hanover, who was soon be crowned King George I of England; he came to London with the King and settled there permanently in 1712, receiving a yearly income of £200 from Queen Anne. He was later naturalised as a British subject.

The opera is in three acts and had a libretto by Paolo Antonio Rolli, based on a libretto by Antonio Salvi and on the histories of Livy. The operaís hero, Scipio, is a Roman centurion who has recently conquered New Carthage. He is in love with the captive Berenice but magnanimously releases her to her beloved Allucius, an Iberian Prince.

After Handelís death his operas fell into obscurity and only since the 1960ís have they been rediscovered in the opera house. The famous march from Scipio has however remained popular since its first performance and has been the Regimental Slow March of the British Grenadier Guards since the 18th century.