- Martha Novak Clinkscale
Drama per musica in a prologue and three acts by Francesco Cavalli to a libretto by Aurelio Aureli ; Venice, Teatro S Apollinare, 30 December 1655.
The Preface to the libretto explains that, while on a visit to Armenia, Prince Erimante of Media fell in love with Arminda, sister of King Artamene. Before they could marry, Erimante was summoned home to succeed his father as king. Arminda died giving birth to their child, Erismena. When Erimante learnt of Arminda’s death he vowed to live a celibate life, but he abandoned this noble intention when he fell in love with his Iberian slave, Aldimira. Erismena, ignorant of her father’s identity, grew up outside the Armenian court. Yet she seemed to have had some connection with it because she met Prince Idraspe of Iberia, who on a visit to Armenia seduced her. Although his original intentions were honourable, he left in search of new conquests. Reaching Media, he assumed the name of Erineo, attained a position at court and fell in love with Aldimira, now King Erimante’s favourite. When Erismena discovered that Idraspe had gone to Media, she disguised herself in men’s clothes and joined the Armenian army....