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La Didone

La Didone

La Didone  Théâtre de Caen  18-10-2011
Francesco Cavalli
Théâtre de Caen
The topic adressed by the composer Francesco Cavalli in the Opera La Didone, the sad love story between Didone and Aenea is an explored theme in opera since the beginning of time. However, there's a peculiarity: during the Seventeenth Century, in Italy, it couldn't have a tragic ending. So librettist Gian Francesco Busenello ended the story with an unlikely marriage between the Queen of Carthage and the young King Iarba, placing also reciprocal suicide attempts, after Iraba loses his mind. The myth of Didone, anyway, was very appreciated by the Venetians who gathered at Teatro di San Cassiano in 1641.

Synopsis La Didone

Celebrating the defeat of Troy, Iride warns the humans not to offend the Gods otherwise they risk incurring their revenge.

While Æneas is getting ready to fight against Greek, his wife Creusa and young son Ascanius try to convince him to stay without success. Cassandra is indignant for divine punishment to her homeland and the Greek Pyrro kidnaps her. The Trojan princess’ lover, Prince Coroebus, intervenes to save her and although he defeats his adversary, he is mortally injured and makes his last farewell. In the meanwhile, Venus is telling Æneas that it is the wishes of the gods that he leaves Troy, but that he can count on her protection. Æneas then convinces his father Anchises to set out on the journey with him and his family. However Creusa is killed by the Greeks. Queen Ecubal, Priamo's wife, is crying in desperation because of the countless lives that have been lost and she has lost all desire to live. At the same time, Cassandra laments that her prophecies have gone unheard. Creusa’s shadow appears before Æneas, urging him to leave and to fulfill the divine plan that sees him as the ruler of a kingdom in Italy. Æneas takes his final farewells from his homeland and Venus asks Fortuna for help to make sure the hero’s destiny is fulfilled. Fortuna is happy to agree but foresees terrible storms.

On the African shores, Iarbas, the king of the Getuli, is reflecting on his unreturned passionate love for Dido. Dido arrives and harangues Iarbas with irony, warning him to leave her alone since her heart has been buried together with her dead husband Sicharbus. Once Iarbas has left, Dido turns to her sister Anna and tells her about a terrible dream she has had: she was wounded with a sword while Carthage was conquered. The Goddess Juno orders Æolus to unleash his forces against Æneas' ship, but Neptune saves the castaways. Venus tells Cupid to assumes the form of young Ascanius and to make the queen fall in love with the Trojan hero. The first meeting between Dido and Æneas is conditioned by Venus induced love.

Dido is now in love with Æneas and confesses it to her sister. Meanwhile, Iarbas shows an unexpected folly. Jupiter is against the indolence that has distracted Æneas from his mission. Mercury then comes down from the skies to recall the hero to his duty: Æneas comes to his senses and although he is sorry for Dido, he calls out for his men and makes the preparations for his departure. The Queen laments his lack of pity and declares she will do anything as long as he does not leave. The shadow of Sicelus then appears before her, violently accusing her of being unfaithful. During his rambles Iarbas meets Mercury who takes mercy and brings him back to his senses. The king throws himself before his benefactor and expresses his great joy when he learns that Dido’s love has been reserved for him. Dido is about to take her life when Iarbas bursts in and takes the dagger away; but when he sees her lifeless on the ground he attempts to kill himself with that very weapon. But this time, having regained consciousness, it is Dido who stops him and declares her love for him.

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