Arbore di Diana, L’ (‘The Tree of Diana’)
- Dorothea Link
(‘The Tree of Diana’)
Dramma giocoso in two acts by Vicente Martín y Soler to a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte; Vienna, Burgtheater, 1 October 1787.
For his third collaboration with Martín, commissioned for the marriage of Joseph II’s niece, Maria Theresa, Da Ponte ‘wanted a gentle subject, suited to the sweetness of his melodies which are felt in the soul but which few can imitate’. Da Ponte drew his ‘gentle subject’ from the repository of pastoral scenarios cultivated by the commedia dell’arte, derived from the late 16th-century pastoral; the libretto is peopled with conventional nymphs and swains and the mythological figures of Diana, Endymion and Cupid. Diana (soprano) and her three nymphs devote themselves to lives of chastity on a beautiful island. Their chastity is regularly tested by a magic apple tree, which gives off exquisite sound and light for the virtuous but pelts the guilty with deadly black apples. Amore [Cupid] (soprano), offended by the tree, undertakes to make Diana fall in love. He spirits three youths onto the island to woo the maidens. The shepherd Endymion (tenor) grazes Diana with one of Cupid’s arrows. After a desperate struggle, Diana succumbs to love and Cupid converts her realm into a garden of love....