Major Operas | Mitridate Eupatore by Alessandro Scarlatti | Early & Middle Baroque
Premiered: 1707, Venice
Libretto by Girolamo Frigimelica Roberti
King Farnace and Stratonica, Mitridate’s mother, have usurped the Pontus throne by killing Mitridate’s father. Mitridate, the true heir, has sought refuge in Egypt; his sister, Laodice, awaits his return and dreams of avenging her father’s death. Egypt and Pontus are set to form an alliance and Laodice is called to court, where she is mocked by Farnace and argues with her mother.
Mitridate and his wife, Issicratea (calling herself Antigono), arrive at court, disguised as Egyptian ambassadors. They tell Stratonica that Mitridate is nearby and Farnace calls for his death; the ‘ambassadors’ agree to bring him Mitridate’s head in exchange for peace between their kingdoms. Laodice promises to help the ‘ambassadors’, if they will spare her brother’s life.
In front of the temple, Farnace addresses his people. Stratonica tells the crowd that she is willing to sacrifice her son for their benefit. Mitridate also appears, as the ambassador, promising to honour their agreement. Laodice’s husband, Nicodemo, tells her what the ‘ambassador’ has announced. Laodice resolves to intervene and save Mitridate.
On the shore with Pelopida, Farnace’s confidant, Laodice sees armed men arrive with the urn. Believing it to contain Mitridate’s head, she mourns the loss of her brother. Mitridate recognizes her and, when they are alone, reveals his identity. The siblings are joyfully reunited. With renewed hope, Laodice shows her contempt for Stratonica and Farnace.
Farnace arrives to claim the urn containing Mitridate’s head and attempts to kill the ‘ambassador’; Mitridate’s sword is quicker, and Farnace is killed. Stratonica launches herself at her son but is killed by Issicratea. Nicodemo announces to the people that Farnace’s tyranny is over and Mitridate has returned. Laodice crowns Mitridate, who then crowns Issicratea. Everyone rejoices at the siblings’ revenge and the restoration of peace to the land.
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