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Claudius [Die verdammte Staat-Sucht, oder Der verführte Claudius (‘The Accursed Lust for Power, or Claudius Betrayed’)]locked

  • John H. Roberts

Extract

Sing-Spiel in three acts by Reinhard Keiser to a libretto by Hinrich Hinsch ; Hamburg, Theater am Gänsemarkt, 1703.

The action centres on Messalina (soprano), wife of the Emperor Claudius, and her scandalous love affair with Silius (tenor), a Roman nobleman. Despite the efforts of Narcissus (soprano) and others to warn him, Claudius (bass) refuses to believe Messalina unfaithful. Eventually a group of conspirators resolves to kill the lovers, but before they can act Silius and Messalina exchange marriage vows in a bacchanalian ceremony, and the people hail Silius as emperor. In the end Claudius’s supporters prevail, and Messalina is turned over to the Vestal Virgins (rather than being summarily executed as in Tacitus), while Silius goes into exile. In a magical subplot Calpurnia (soprano), who has also been smitten with Silius, consults various supernatural authorities in search of a cure for love, finally finding it in the cave of a fury (Erynnis, soprano), who restores her feelings for her betrothed, Callistus (contralto)....

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