Major Operas | Il Sant’Alessio by Stefano Landi | Early & Middle Baroque
The figure of Roma (Rome), surrounded by a chorus of slaves, dedicates the performance to the Prince of Polonia (Poland).
Eufemiano, a Roman senator and Alessio’s father, encounters Adrasto, a knight returning from war. While pleased to see Adrasto, Eufemiano mourns the disappearance of his son Alessio. Meanwhile, Alessio, an ascetic, is offered lodgings at his father’s house by the pages Marzio and Curzio. Taking him for a beggar, they mock him. In hell, the devil resolves to tempt Alessio away from his holy life. Alessio’s grieving wife and mother are comforted by their nurse. Curzio arranges a rustic dance to entertain everyone.
Eufemiano laments the loss of his son. The devil reveals his plan to trick Alessio into returning to the joys of worldly pleasures: Alessio’s wife will go off in search of him, and Alessio will feel guilty and reveal himself. Dressed as a pilgrim, Alessio’s wife prepares to leave, accompanied by Alessio’s mother. Alessio, as the beggar, tries to dissuade them. Seeing the grief he is causing his family, he considers revealing his identity and is encouraged to do so by the devil, disguised as a hermit. An angel appears, warning Alessio against the devil and comforting him with news of his approaching death and the joys that he can expect in heaven. Alessio sings of the pleasure he will find when his earthly existence is over. A light-hearted scene follows in which the devil and Marzio taunt each other. The figure of Religione (Religion) then praises Alessio’s constancy, urging others to follow his example. Eufemiano, still grieving, is comforted by news of a celestial voice that has been heard in the cathedral.
His mission unaccomplished, the devil returns to hell. A papal ambassador brings news of Alessio’s death, and his family mourns as they hear a letter he has written to them. Angels encourage everyone to celebrate along with Religione, who praises Alessio’s admirable conduct and dedicates a church to him.
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