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Sant’ Alessio (‘St Alexis’)locked

  • Margaret Murata

Extract

Dramma musicale in three acts by stefano Landi to a libretto by giulio Rospigliosi ; Rome, ? Palazzo Barberini ai Giubbonari, 2 March 1631, or Palazzo Barberini alle Quattro Fontane, 18 February 1632.

Choosing to remain an impoverished holy man, Alexis (soprano) has returned after many years from Palestine to the patrician house of his father Eufemiano (tenor) in Rome, unbeknown to him, his mother (soprano) or his wife (soprano). Hearing that he has been seen in the Holy Land, Alexis’s wife and mother decide to search for him. Alexis tries to dissuade them, while struggling with the temptation to reveal himself and end their despair; temptation is made manifest in a hermit, the Devil (bass) in disguise, who is resolved to lure Alexis back into the secular world. At the height of his uncertainty, Alexis turns to Heaven, who instantly sends him a guardian Angel (soprano). Reassured, he prepares for a peaceful death. The family discovers Alexis’s corpse in his dwelling-place under a stairway, a letter in his hand revealing his identity. Their doubt, distress and grief are finally dispelled by their dim understanding that the death marks a miraculous life, and that Christianity and Rome have gained by Alexis’s sacrifices....

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