George Frideric Handel is arguably the greatest composer of the baroque period. Born in Germany, Handel moved to England in his late twenties where he settled as a British citizen. Although Handel is best known in the English-speaking world for his oratorios and orchestral works, he was primarily an opera composer.

Until he was in his mid-fifties, Handel’s career centred on the opera house. He took a leading role in the musical management of London's repertoire opera companies, and between 1710 and 1740 he composed new operas at a rate averaging more than one major work per year. From his early twenties Handel wrote in the opera seria style which he enriched with elements from French opera and drama. Handel brought his formidable composition skills to this form (particularly in the control and extension of melody and harmony), taking the baroque operatic aria to a peak of its development. Since opera seria relies on showing emotional states of characters through arias - something in which Handel was supremely skilled - his operas mark the highest point in the genre itself.