Ombra mai fu, SERSE, G. F. Handel

Unison treble chorus (or solo), piano

This famous aria is the perfect piece for your developing treble choir (or a soloist) to explore concepts of tone, color, line, and introduces them to Baroque ornamentation. Score below.

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In Handel’s opera, the main character, Xerxes, emperor of Persia, sings of his love of the shade from a large, leafy tree, such a relief after the blazing heat of the desert. The verse is sung twice, first with just the basic melody, then with Baroque ornamentation.


This piece is a great introduction to singing in Italian, the use of Baroque ornamentation, and concepts of clear, round vowels and long notes with dynamic shape and phrasing. Teach the plain melody in the first section first, and let that become very secure before introducing the ornamented version. Choirs are used to the same notes with new words, but not as much with the same words and modified notes!


Ombra mai fu di vegetabile cara ed amabile soave piu.

Never was there any shade from such a beloved and dear tree more gentle and soothing.