- Don Neville
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio, first set by Antonio Caldara (1731, Vienna). Versions of the libretto were also set as Alceste, Cleonice and Demetrio, rè della Siria.
Cleonice, newly crowned Queen of Syria, is urged by her people to choose a husband. She complains about this pressure to Olinto, a nobleman, who reveals his hopes to be the chosen king. Cleonice spurns him, however, because she secretly loves the commoner Alceste [Alcestes], of whom there has been no word since he fought beside her father, Alexander Balas, against the armies of Crete. Balas was slain in this battle, and it is suspected that Alcestes has met the same fate. Alcestes is in truth Demetrius, son of the former King of Syria, whose throne Balas usurped. His identity, however, is known only to his tutor, Fenicio, Olinto’s father. Alcestes’ sudden return incites Cleonice to insist upon no social barriers in her choice of consort. This granted, she still dismisses Alcestes, believing that she has now placed her personal desires ahead of her duty....