Antonio Lotti: Giove in Argo
Giove in Argo was the twenty-first of Lotti's twenty-three
operas, performed in Dresden in November 1717.
The opera requires a cast of eight*, and the original performers are
shown next to the roles:
Santa Stella Lotti
Castrato (Soprano) Matteo Berselli
Antonio Maria Laurenti
The instrumentation is 2 violins, 2 oboes, 2 flutes, 2 horns (corni
da caccia), viola, bass and keyboard continuo.
* The role of CLEONE is entirely absent from the libretto and
score (except for the list of performers). MILO has no arias, only recitative.
In the libretto, a revised cast list has been pasted onto the
page, suggesting a last-minute revision after printing. Magherita
Zani was to play CALISTO, Luccia Gaggi was DIANA, with Giuseppe
Boschi as MILO. It seems likely that the roles were revised, presumably 'owing to the indisposition of Sig. Boschi'.
An alternative performance suggestion is for the Castrato roles to be
performed down an octave by Tenor and Bass, instead of Soprano and Alto.
Licaone, the tyrant of Arcadia, has been overthrown and exiled, and
is now hiding in the forests of Argo in the guise of a shepherd, to plan
his revenge. In pursuit of Licaone is Iside, princess of Arcadia,
seeking vengeance for the murder of her father, Inaco. Tired from
searching, she falls asleep, and is discovered by the shepherd Arete. On
waking, Iside is courted by Arete, who promises to help her in her
quest, in return for her love. However, Iside is already promised to
Osiris, the King of Egypt, and she struggles with her constancy.
Erasto is searching the woods, too: for Iside. He also meets Arete, who
takes an instant dislike to Erasto, and discerns his true identity as
Osiris. Arete provokes Erasto’s jealousy, suggesting that Iside has
already forsaken him for another.
There are yet more wanderers in the woods: Calisto, the daughter of
Licaone, is looking for her father, but runs into the goddess Diana and
her nymphs. She pledges to stay in Diana’s service, and resist the
affections of men. But she too meets the handsome shepherd Arete, who
courts her. Iside overhears, and is furious. Arete manages to placate
her with sweet words. These, in turn, are overheard by Erasto, who is
now angry at Iside’s faithlessness.
Calisto is reunited with her father, but he is wary of her, believing
that Arete has turned her against him. Calisto protests her innocence
and urges her father to flee. Arete returns to court Calisto once more,
and this is witnessed by Diana, who accuses Calisto of breaking her vow
and condemns her to death. Iside finally encounters Licaone, and hurls a
dart at him.
Arete is of course no mere mortal, but the god Jupiter in disguise. He
reveals himself, appeases Diana (his daughter), and assures all parties
of their fidelity, and all ends well.