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date: 14 November 2019

Isis(ii)locked

  • Lois Rosow

Extract

Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by Jean-Baptiste Lully (see Lully family (opera) §(1)) to a libretto by Quinault, Philippe after Ovid’s Metamorphoses; St Germain-en-Laye, court, 5 January 1677.

The story of Isis is set entirely in pastoral and divine realms; there are no mortal heroes or worldly kingdoms here. Jupiter (baritone) courts the nymph Io (soprano). The jealous Junon [Juno] (soprano) imprisons Io under the hundred watchful eyes of Argus (baritone). Mercure [Mercury] (haute-contre) helps Io to escape and turns Hiérax [Hierax] (baritone), Io’s former lover, into a bird when he tries to interfere. Juno then orders a Fury (haute-contre) to torment Io. After a series of tortures Io desperately invokes Jupiter in the monologue air ‘Terminez mes tourments, puissant maître du monde’; Jupiter promises Juno that he will be faithful to her if she will spare Io. Juno transforms Io into an immortal, the Egyptian goddess Isis....

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