"Ombra mai fù" is an aria from the opera Serse (Xerxes) by George Frideric Handel.
The title, which translates from the Italian as Never has there been a shade, is the first aria of the opera. It is sung by the main character, Serse (or "Xerxes"), in praise of a tree's shade as he sits underneath it. It is commonly known as Handel's "Largo", although the original tempo was larghetto.
The opera was a commercial failure, lasting only five performances in London after its premiere. In the 19th century, however, the aria was rediscovered and became one of Handel's best-known pieces. Originally composed to be sung by a soprano castrato (and sung in modern performances of Serse by a countertenor or a mezzo-soprano), it has often been arranged for other voice types and instruments, including solo organ, solo piano, violin and piano, and string ensembles, often with the full title "Largo from Xerxes." Handel adapted the aria from the setting by Bononcini who, in turn, adapted it from the setting by Francesco Cavalli. All three composers had produced settings of the same opera libretto by Niccolò
Ombra mai fù
cara ed amabile,
Never has there been a shade
of a plant
more dear and lovely,
or more gentle.