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Grotta di Trofonio, La (‘Trofonio’s Cave’)locked

  • John A. Rice

Extract

Opera comica in two acts by antonio Salieri to a libretto by giovanni battista Casti ; Vienna, Burgtheater, 12 October 1785.

Aristone (bass) tells his two daughters that it is time for them to marry. They have very different personalities, and each loves a man with a similar character to her own. Ofelia (soprano), serious and studious, loves the philosophical Artemidoro (tenor); Dori (soprano), lighthearted and playful, loves the funloving Plistene (tenor). Aristone approves of their choices, and all look forward to the weddings. Deep in a forest is a cave with magical properties. Accompanied by slow music in D minor (anticipated by the opening of the overture) the magician Trofonio (bass) sings an incantation to the spirits of the cave (male chorus), who respond but remain unseen. Artemidoro arrives, a volume of Plato in hand, in peaceful thought; when Trofonio invites him to enter the cave Artemidoro, always in search of knowledge, eagerly accepts. Plistene, singing happily, arrives; when Trofonio tells him that his friend is in the cave, he enters in search of him. Artemidoro emerges from another entrance, transformed: full of gaiety, and caring nothing for philosophy, he can only sing ‘Evviva la gioia’. Soon Plistene also emerges, surprised that he is now as serious as Artemidoro used to be. The finale of Act 1 begins with Ofelia alone, singing of her pleasure in Artemidoro (‘È un piacer col caro amante’, with a lyrical clarinet solo); she is shocked when he enters, singing happily. Plistene arrives, deep in thought; Dori thinks he must be pretending. Aristone eagerly announces wedding plans to his daughters, who now begin to have second thoughts. The act ends with a general expression of perplexity....

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