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L‘Ercole Amante (Hercules in Love)

by Francesco Cavalli
Boston Early Music Festival;
Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Music Directors

Performers listed below.

What do you think of when someone says, “Baroque Opera?” Whatever image you dream up probably isn’t terribly exiciting - much less titillating. Today, we tend to think of Baroque opera as a stiff, formulaic sort of entertainment. The music may be beautiful, but the dramamatic content? Fuhgeddaboutit.

But what about this for a story: A powerful, married man tries to seduce a beautiful, innocent young woman - not his wife - and she turns him down. So he disguises himself as the woman’s female boss, whom she obeys without question, and seduces her that way -- as a woman. Clever, huh?

And then there’s this one: This other powerful married man falls hopelessly in love with a woman who happens to be his son’s lover. He knows he should back off, but he doesn’t. He tricks her into “loving” him. This leaves his wife emotionally devastated, and drives his son to suicide. Then the girl kills him. Sounds like a mini-series.

Now, both of those stories are just a little on the kinky side, don’t you think? Nothing staid or stuffy here. And where do these stories come from? They’re both Baroque Operas - and both by the same composer, Francesco Cavalli. The second one is called “Ercole Amante,” or “Hercules in Love,” and we’ll hear it this week on NPR WORLD OF OPERA with Steve Curwood, in a performance from the Boston Early Music Festival.

Nathaniel Watson (Hercules); Ellen Hargis (Venus); Meredith Hall (Juno); Lisa Safer (Iole); William Hite (Hyllo); Claron McFAdden (Cynthia); Paul Guttry (Il Tevere); Ann Hallenberg (Hercule’s Wife)


  • Boston Early Music Festival
  • AT THE OPERA, from NPR

    Coming Up:
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Lowell Liebermann. (American Premiere) Florentine Opera Company (Milwaukee) Steuart Bedford, conductor. Broadcast September 4th.

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