About this work
This aria was written to Metastasio's libretto for the opera Ezio, which is the same text that Handel took for his complete opera of the same title.
One of Mozart's first concert arias was Va, dal furor portata, in which Massimo, Fulvia's father berates her for planning to reveal his treason to her husband, the emperor. In this aria, Fulvia bewails her father's treachery and her own situation.
The contrast between the very mannered Va, dal furor portata and this later aria is quite striking. The orchestral opening here is heavy and somber, setting the mood for the dramatic recitative. Some of the lines in the recitative are as rich and powerful as the aria itself--"Oh imagine funeste, oh memorie, oh martiro!" (Oh, deadly thoughts, oh, memories, oh, martyrdom!) even sound as though they are the start of the aria, a trick which catches the listener off-guard, and makes the entrance of the aria itself even more impressive.
In the aria, Fulvia sings that it is not she who speaks, but the barbarous grief that tears her heart and drives her insane. In the second part, she sings that she asks for a thunderbolt from heaven, but a thunderbolt does not come. The pause between "un fulmine gli chiedo (I ask of it a thunderbolt) and "e un fulmine non ha, " is an interesting dramatic touch.