Xerxes (also spelled Serse on ocasion) is a fairly serious Italian opera with comic quirks that's written by German-British composer George Frederic Handel. The opera is loosely based upon King Xerxes I of Persia and the tinge of romantic intrigue that is said to have surrounded his royal court. Although the opera failed commercially when it premiered in 1738, primarily due to the unorthodox mixing of elements from both the opera seria and opera buffa genres, Xerxes has gone on to become one of Handel's most important works, despite virtually disappearing from the stage altogether for almost 200 years. The opera's opening aria, "Ombra mai fu" (English translation: Never was a shade), has also gone on to become one of Handel's most popular pieces of music, known to most simply as Handel's "Largo."
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