Hipermestra (1658): Francesco Cavalli

Cavalli: Hipermestra

★★★★½

(Glyndebourne, conducted by William Christie, 17 May 2017)

King Danao of Argos is troubled. His brother’s Egyptian troops have gathered on his border, forcing him to suggest a diplomatic match to avoid conflict. His fifty daughters will marry his brother’s fifty sons in a mass ceremony, cementing a peace treaty between the two nations. But Danao has given his daughters secret instructions. The Oracle at Delphi has warned him that one of his nephews will rob him of his life and kingdom. And so each of the fifty girls has been ordered to murder her husband on their wedding night. Each of them obeys. Except one: Hipermestra, who loves her new husband, her cousin Linceo, and urges him to escape. Her compassion will be rewarded by a tide of blood. In this thrilling premiere of an all-but-forgotten opera by Francesco Cavalli, Glyndebourne have updated an ancient story to a setting in the modern Middle East, giving it a punch that lingers long after the final curtain comes down.

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Idomeneo: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1780)

Mozart: Idomeneo

★★★

(Trinity Laban at Blackheath Halls, London, 14 July 2015)

This is another post from the deepest, darkest depths of the drafts folder, as you can see from the date I saw this opera. Admittedly there’s limited point in posting on something more than a year after I saw it, but the post was almost complete and it would be a shame not to use it. Besides, it can still be interesting to see how different productions approach the same opera. And Trinity Laban’s performance at Blackheath Halls was a particularly intriguing choice last summer, because only eight months earlier we’d had another, much higher profile Idomeneo in London, which hadn’t exactly received rave reviews. It was a brave decision to put on another version of this challenging opera, so soon after it had come back to bite the team at Covent Garden.

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