It remains for us, after having attempted to indicate the general characteristics of Handel's art, to sketch the technique of the different styles in which he worked.
To speak truly, it is difficult to speak of the opera or of the oratorio of Handel. It is necessary to say: of the operas or of the oratorios, for we do not find that they point back to any single type. We can verify here what we said at the commencement of this chapter, about the magnificent vitality of Handel in choosing amongst his art forms the different directions of the music of his times.
All the European tendencies at that time are reflected in his operas: the model of Keiser in his early works, the Venetian model in his Agrippina, the model of Scarlatti and Steffani in his first early operas; in the London works he soon introduces English influences, particularly in the rhythms. Then it was Bononcini whom he rivalled. Again, those great attempts of genius to create a new musical drama, Giulio Cesare, Tamerlano, Orlando; later on, those charming ballet-operas inspired by France, Ariodante, Alcina; later still, those operas which point towards the opéra comique and the light style of the second half of the century, Serse Deidamia. . . . Handel continued to try every other style, without making any permanent choice as did Gluck, with whom alone he can be compared.
Without doubt (and it is his greatest fault in the theatre) he was constrained by the conventions of the Italian Opera at times and by the composition of his troupe of singers to overlook his choruses, and