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Dale E. Monson

Libretto subject used chiefly in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its principal source is Virgil’s Aeneid. Operas on the subject appear under various titles including Enea nel Lazio, Enea in Italia and Enea e Lavinia, and in French as Enée et Lavinie.

In opera Aeneas is most widely known for his desertion of Dido (particularly in Nahum Tate’s poetry for Purcell in ...

Article

Dale E. Monson

Libretto subject used chiefly in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its source is Greek mythology.

The story of Perseus’ rescue of Andromeda from a sea monster was one of the most popular subjects of early opera, with over 25 independent librettos before 1800 (operas on the subject were also entitled ...

Article

Marita P. McClymonds

Libretto subject used chiefly in the 18th century, derived from plays by Sophocles and Euripides . Italian librettos on the subject were entitled Antigona or occasionally Creonte.

The plot concerns Antigone, daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta. Her brothers Polynices and Eteocles have died, each at the other’s hand; their maternal uncle Creon, who is acting as regent in Oedipus’s absence, has forbidden the proper burial of Polynices, but Antigone defiantly attempts to bury him. In Sophocles’ version of the story Creon inters her alive in a vault and her betrothed Haemon kills himself; in Euripides’ version Creon hands Antigone over to Haemon to be executed, but instead he hides her among shepherds and she bears his child....

Article

Ariadne  

John A. Rice

Libretto subject used chiefly during the 17th, 18th and 20th centuries (also as Ariane or Arianna). Its source is Greek mythology. Ariadne, daughter of Minos, king of Crete, fell in love with the Athenian hero Theseus, who came to Crete to slay the Minotaur, the monstrous offspring, half-bull, half-man, of Minos’s wife Pasiphae; she helped him to escape the Labyrinth by providing him (in one version) with a ball of string that he unwound as he penetrated it, thus enabling him to find his way out. Ariadne accompanied Theseus to the island of Naxos, where he abandoned her. In some versions she dies of grief; in others she is rescued by the god Dionysus (Bacchus), whom she weds....

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Cid, El  

Dennis Libby

Libretto subject used in many periods. Its chief source is Pierre Corneille ’s tragedy Le Cid; earlier sources are the plays of Guillén de Castro y Bellvís (1569–1631), Las mocedades del Cid and Las hazañas del Cid, and popular Spanish ballads. All recount the exploits of Rodrigo (or Ruy) Diaz de Vivar, a Spanish warrior of the 11th century (called El Cid after the Arabic ...

Article

John Platoff

Libretto subject used chiefly in the 18th and 19th centuries. This was the most common Italian title for the Don Juan story; operas on the subject are also entitled Don Giovanni and Il dissoluto punito.

The first important literary source is Tirso de Molina’s play ...

Article

Judith Tick and Laurie Blunsom

(b Liverpool, England, Sept 25, 1793; d Dublin, Ireland, May 16, 1835). English poet. She spent most of her life in Wales and became well known in literary circles, being much admired by Byron, Scott, Shelley, and Wordsworth. Her works were extremely popular at home and abroad, notably in the United States before the Civil War. She rivaled Thomas Moore in the extent to which her works were included in literary anthologies and equaled Tennyson in the degree to which her poems became part of the conventional education of American youth. “Cassabianca” (The boy stood on the burning deck) and “Pilgrim Fathers” (The breaking waves dash high) were standard school recitations until the early 20th century. Four collected editions of Hemans’s verse appeared in the United States between ...

Article

Julie E. Cumming

Libretto subject used in the 18th century. Its source is the Iphigeneia in Aulis of Euripides , but Racine’s Iphigénie (1674) is of equal importance. Librettos on the subject were written in French (Iphigénie en Aulide), German (Iphigenie in Aulis) and Italian (...

Article

Julie E. Cumming

Libretto subject popular in the 18th century. Its source is the Iphigenia in Tauris of Euripides, although Guimond de la Touche’s spoken drama Iphigénie en Tauride (1757) was also influential. Librettos on the subject were written in Italian (Ifigenia in Tauride), French (...

Article

Paul Cauthen

Libretto subject used chiefly in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its source is Greek history, in particular Euripides’ lost tragedy Cresphontes.

The story is set in the kingdom of Messenia in the Greek Peloponnese, ruled by Cresphontes, a descendant of Hercules, and his queen, Merope, princess of Messenian nobles Cresphontes is deposed by Polyphontes and executed along with two of his three sons. Merope sends the youngest son, Aepytus, into hiding in Arcadia. When he reaches manhood he returns to avenge his father’s murder; arriving in disguise, he announces that he has killed the long-missing third son of Cresphontes. Merope, whom Polyphontes has forced to become his wife, learns that Aepytus is no longer in Arcadia and orders the stranger put to death. Aepytus’s true identity is revealed before the execution; mother and son are reunited. Aepytus kills Polyphontes and assumes his rightful place on the throne....