- Martha Novak Clinkscale
Drama per musica in a prologue and three acts by Francesco Cavalli to a libretto by Count Nicolò Minato based on Herodotus’s History (book 7); Venice, Teatro SS Giovanni e Paolo, 12 January 1654.
Xerxes (alto), King of Persia, moves his army to Abydos in order to prepare for an invasion of Athens. While waiting for his engineers to complete a bridge across the Hellespont, he and his brother Arsamene (alto) compete for the love of Romilda (soprano), daughter of Ariodate (tenor), Prince of Abydos. Romilda prefers Arsamene but Xerxes is determined to marry her himself. He tells Ariodate that, as a reward for his alliance with the Persians in their victory over the Moors, he shall have a royal son-in-law. Meanwhile, Amastre (soprano), Princess of Susa, disguises herself as a soldier and arrives in search of Xerxes, to whom she is betrothed. Further complications are caused by the ineptness of Elviro (alto), Arsamene’s comic servant, and by the neurotic ploys of Romilda’s sister, Adelanta (soprano), who also loves Arsamene. Xerxes’ eunuch commander, Eumene (soprano), summarizes the vanity of everyone’s behaviour in his sardonic aria ‘La bellezza è un don fugace’....