Orontea

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Orontea
Opera by Antonio Cesti
Orontea libretto Venice 1683.png
Libretto printed for the 1683 production at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice
Librettist Giacinto Andrea Cicognini
Premiere 19 February 1656 (1656-02-19)
Hoftheater, Innsbruck

Orontea is an opera in a prologue and three acts by the Italian composer Antonio Cesti with a libretto by Giacinto Andrea Cicognini (revised by Giovanni Filippo Apolloni). The first performance took place in Innsbruck on 19 February 1656. Orontea was one of the most popular Italian operas of the 17th century. It includes well-known soprano arias such as "Intorno all'idol mio" (English: "Around my idol"), "Addio Corindo" and "Il mio ben dice ch'io speri".

Roles[edit]

Role Voice type Premiere Cast
La filosofia (Philosophy) soprano
Amore (Love) soprano
Orontea, Queen of Egypt soprano
Alidoro, a young painter tenor Antonio Cesti
Silandra, a courtesan soprano
Corindo, a courtier alto castrato
Creonte, a philosopher bass
Aristea, Alidoro's presumed mother contralto
Giacinta, disguised as a boy soprano
Gelone, a fool bass
Tibrino, a page soprano

Synopsis[edit]

Prologue[edit]

Philosophy and Love argue which of them has more power over mankind.

Act One[edit]

Queen Orontea renounces love, even though her chief adviser Creonte urges her to marry for the good of the kingdom. The young painter Alidoro arrives at the court seeking refuge from brigands with his presumed mother Aristea. He explains how he had to flee from the court of Queen Arnea of Phoenicia. In spite of vow, Orontea finds herself falling in love with Alidoro, as does the courtesan Silandra.

Act Two[edit]

Giacinta, disguised as the boy "Ismero", arrives at Orontea's court and explains she was behind the ambush of Alidoro, having been sent to kill him by the Queen of Phoenicia. Orontea can barely restrain herself from killing Giacinta with a sword. Creonte now guesses the queen is in love with Alidoro and reproaches her for choosing a commoner. Aristea falls in love with "Ismero". Meanwhile, Alidoro paints a portrait of Silandra. Orontea, mad with jealousy, bursts in during the sitting and faints. She repents and leaves Alidoro a crown and a letter confessing her love.

Act Three[edit]

Creonte forces Orontea to reject Alidoro. He is discovered to be in possession of a royal medallion and accused of theft. Aristea explains the provenance of the trinket which proves that Alidoro is none other than Floridano, the long-lost son of the King of Phoenicia. As a child he had been kidnapped by a gang of pirates led by Aristea's husband and brought up by her as her own son. He is now free to marry Orontea.

Recordings[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • The Viking Opera Guide ed. Holden (Viking, 1993)
  • Booklet notes to the above recording.