Opera Scotland

Egisto L’Egisto

Music
Pier Francesco Cavalli (born Crema, 14 February 1602; died Venice, 14 January 1676)

Text
Giovanni Faustini.

Source
Original.

Premières
First performance: Venice (Teatro San Cassiano), Carnival 1643.
First UK performance: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 13 January 1982.
First performance in Scotland: As above.
Scottish Opera première: As above.

Background
By the end of Monteverdi’s long career, Venice enjoyed performances of opera independent of the ducal courts that had staged performances earlier. This growth of a commercial theatrical culture was most unusual. The most successful composer at this time was Cavalli, whose operas are gradually being revived in performance, and make thoroughly enjoyable entertainments. In Britain the first musicologist to prepare successful performances of some of them was Raymond Leppard, starting in 1967 with L’Ormindo, which was soon followed by La Calisto (1970), both being staged at Glyndebourne. His editions of L’ Egisto (1974) and L’ Orione (1983) both opened at Santa Fe before moving to Scottish Opera. These stagings were all successful in showing that the works could be dramatically and musically viable, and also popular with audiences. Since then, further operas have been successfully revived in less elaborate realisations which are generally believed to be closer to early performance practice.

Main Characters
Clori, from Delos, in love with Lidio (mezzo-soprano)
Lidio, of Zacynthos (counter-tenor)
Egisto, from Delos, formerly betrothed to Clori (tenor)
Climene, of Zacynthos, formerly betrothed to Lidio (mezzo-soprano)
Ipparco, her brother, ruler of Zacynthos (baritone)
Dema, his old nurse (tenor)
Apollo (baritone)
Venus (mezzo-soprano)
Cupid, her son (soprano)

Plot Summary
As with many Venetian operas, the human characters are shown largely to be the playthings of the gods. In particular, Egisto is the son of Apollo, and Venus hates him for this reason alone, and plots his downfall. On Zacynthos, Clori meets her beloved Lidio, and carves a message to this effect on a tree. They are frightened away by the voice of a man who, in his dreams, accuses Clori of unfaithfulness. This is Egisto, Clori’s first love from back home. Egisto and his companion Climene now wake up. They have escaped from a period as prisoners of pirates. Egisto has brought Climene home to Zacynthos, where her brother is prince. They now find Clori’s carving and are furious, since not only did Egisto once love Clori back on Delos, but Climene had been Lidio’s lover. Ipparco also loves Clori. Dema, who believes in having as many lovers as possible, provides the comic interludes. Ipparco has Lidio arrested and tied to a tree at his spurned sister’s mercy. Climene refuses to take her revenge, and the couple are reunited. Clori continues to resist Ipparco, since she is beginning to feel again her former love for Egisto. Under pressure from Venus, Cupid makes Egisto mad, loving and hating Clori in alternation. It is left to Apollo to restore his sanity so that he and Clori can be reunited.

The Cast

Amor
 Cupid, son of Venus
Apollo
 
Aurora
 Dawn
Autunno
 Autumn
Bellezza
 goddess of Beauty
Climene
 of Zacynthos, formerly betrothed to Lidio
Clori
 from Delos, in love with Lidio
Dema
 Ipparco's old nurse
Didone
 Dido, a Heroine who died for love
Egisto
 from Delos, formerly betrothed to Clori
Estate
 Summer
Fedra
 Phaedra, a Heroine who died for love
Hero
 a Heroine who died for love
Inverno
 Winter
Ipparco
 Climene's brother, ruler of Zacynthos
Lidio
 of Zacynthos
Notte
 Night
Primavera
 Spring
Semele
 a Heroine who died for love
Venere
 Venus
Volupia
 goddess of Pleasure

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