La lotta d’Ercole con Acheloo
DIVERTIMENTO DRAMMATICO IN ONE ACT
Libretto by Ortensio Mauro
Among the most unusual rediscoveries of recent years are the works of the composer and papal diplomat Agostino Steffani, born in 1654, who, a generation before George Frideric Handel, combined different styles of music with superlative skill. La lotta d’Ercole con Acheloo, composed in 1689 for the newly opened court theatre of the elector of Hanover, describes the fight between Alcides (Heracles) and the river god Achelous for the love of the beautiful Deianira. Alongside the soprano Anna Prohaska, three of the most prominent countertenors of our times, who could not be more different, join musical battle: Xavier Sabata, Terry Wey and Philipp Mathmann.
In Italian with German surtitles
Deianira, daughter of King Oeneus of the city of Calydon, is saved by Heracles as she is fleeing from a monster. Heracles then falls in love with her. The river god Achelous, on whose shores Calydon lies, is also in love with Deianira. Achelous tells the king that it was he who saved the princess, and as a reward he demands her hand in marriage. But Deianira tells her father what really happened. So as not to inflame the river god’s anger, she suggests a duel between Heracles and Achelous, with the prize being her hand in marriage. Heracles wins the fight. Ashamed, Achelous withdraws to the sea.