Admeto, re di Tessaglia

Synopsis

Sunday, 23 February 2014
7 pm

  1. 23.02.2014
  2. 7:00 p.m.

Synopsis

The opera seria Admeto, Re di Tessaglia was written straight after Alessandro specifically with Senesino, Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni in mind. Handel wrote the musical highlights to suit the three singers in order to emphasise the merits of the famous castrato and the two ladies whom London audiences described as the “rival queens”. The libretto is based on Euripides’s tragedy Alkestis; the second leading female role of Antigona is an invention. Over the course of three acts Admeto, the king of Thessaly, cannot choose between two women and Handel depicts his dithering eponymous hero in a situation which is highly unusual for a king: Admeto is ill and already on this deathbed. According to the prophecy issued by Apollo, the god of healing, Admeto can only be saved if someone close to him dies instead of him. Alceste, his wife, stabs herself in the chest with a dagger in an effort to save him. But Antigona, his former betrothed, feels betrayed by Admeto and regards his illness as a fitting punishment by the gods. Unbeknown to Admeto, his guest Heracles has fetched Alceste back from the underworld and she, disguised as a man, puts her husband’s fidelity to the test. But Admeto continues to waver and cannot decide whether he should stay true to the memory of the wife he believes dead or marry Antigona.