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date: 14 October 2019

Amphionlocked

  • Bertil H. van Boer

Extract

Opéra-ballet in a prologue and one act by Johann Gottlieb Naumann to a libretto by Gudmund Göran Adlerbeth after Antoine Léonard Thomas’s play; Stockholm, Bollhus Theatre, 24 January 1778.

Antiope (soprano) loves Mercury’s son, Amphion (tenor) who is able to calm the passions of beasts through his song. She is threatened by the Chieftain of the barbarians (bass), who demands her love. Rejected, he captures and threatens both her and Amphion with death, but Amphion disarms the barbarians by singing. They promise to reform themselves, and Amphion weds Antiope.

Newly arrived in Stockholm from Dresden, Naumann wrote Amphion as a test piece to gauge both his ability with Swedish and public reaction to his style. It was an unqualified success in Stockholm, with more than 20 performances: arias from the opera are still in the Swedish repertory. The music, which shows both French and Italian influences, displays Naumann’s gift for word painting and a singable melody, coupled with often bniliant orchestration....

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