Iphigenia in Tauris
- 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 (Iphigénie en Tauride) and German (Iphigenie in Tauris); they were sometimes named after the two principal male characters (Oreste; Oreste e Pilade; Pilade e Oreste) or their friendship (La forza dell’amicizia).
Iphigenia is a priestess at the temple of Diana in the barbarian kingdom of Tauris, having been transported there after her supposed sacrifice in Aulis. Her brother Orestes arrives in Tauris with his faithful friend Pylades. He is being pursued by the Furies for having killed his mother, Clytemnestra, and must do penance by finding the statue of Diana in Tauris and returning it to Greece. They are captured and the tyrant, Thoas, demands that they be sacrificed. Iphigenia does not recognize them, but feels a strange affinity with Orestes; there is a recognition scene, an attempt to escape, and a final ...