The Glyndebourne Festival Opera season opens on 20 May with the UK premier of Cavalli’s Hipermestra. Graham Vick directs and William Christie conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Like most of Cavalli’s operas Hipermestra wasn’t performed between the late 17th century and recent years.
Working in 17th-century Venice soon after the world’s first public opera houses opened there, composer Francesco Cavalli had no tradition to follow. He gave his fertile imagination free rein, tinkering with the brand-new art form, to create the lively Venetian style of opera with its melodious arias, sprightly dance rhythms, free-wheeling mythological or historical plots and generous dollops of comedy.
Hipermestra is one of the 50 daughters of King Danao of Argos, whose twin brother, King Egitto, has 50 sons.
Danao lives in fear of a prophecy that his life and kingdom will be taken by the lover of one of his daughters, so he commands all his daughters to marry and then kill all the sons of Egitto. 49 daughters obey, but Hipermestra refuses to slay her husband, Linceo.
Despite the trials and dangers that ensue, courage, love and loyalty triumph.