Major Operas | Egisto by Francesco Cavalli | Early & Middle Baroque

Premiered: 1643, Venice
Libretto by Giovanni Faustini


Egisto and Clori, two lovers from Delos, have been captured by pirates and sold to different masters. On the day of her marriage to Lidio, Climene has also been captured and sold to the same master as Egisto.

Act I

One year later, Egisto and Climene have escaped and returned to her home island of Zakynthos, both anxious to be reunited with their former lovers. Unfortunately, however, they discover that Clori and Lidio have fallen in love. Climene’s brother, Ipparco, also happens to have fallen for Clori and is encouraged by his servant Dema to take his vengeance against Lidio. After overhearing the declarations of love between Clori and Lidio, Egisto and Climene appeal to Amor to help them exact their revenge; instead of helping them however, he is encouraged by Venus to drive Egisto mad.

Act II

Clori pretends not to recognize Egisto, claiming that he must be mad to think they were ever lovers. When confronted by Climene, Lidio tells her that she has been replaced in his affections by Clori. Egisto advises Lidio that his love for Clori will bring nothing but sorrow. Amor is captured by Semele, Fedra, Didone and Hero, all of whom had been wronged by love, and Amor appeals to Apollo (an ancestor of Egisto) to release him.


To uphold his sister’s honour and rid himself of a rival, Ipparco resolves to kill Lidio. He captures him and then urges Climene to stab her former lover, but she hesitates, asking the gods to forgive him and requesting her own death instead. This reawakens Lidio’s love for Climene and they are reunited. Egisto has now been driven mad, but Clori’s heart is softened by his suffering. All four lovers return to their original pairs through the power of Amor.

Personalities | Francesco Cavalli | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera


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