Veremonda, l'amazzone di Aragona (Veremonda, the Amazon of Aragon; also known as Il Delio) is an opera in three acts and a prologue by the Italian composer Francesco Cavalli. The libretto is by Giulio Cicognini with revisions by Giulio Strozzi. The date of the Venetian performance is uncertain.

Performance historyEdit

The Venetian libretto indicates 28 January 1652 but this could refer also to 1653 if the Venetian calendar applied (where the new year began on March 1). The opera was also performed at the Nuovo Teatro del Palazzo Reale in Naples on 21 December 1652, to celebrate the Spanish capture of Barcelona, which put an end to the revolt of Catalonia (Naples was also a Spanish possession).

Roles in the Venetian librettoEdit

Role Voice type Premiere Cast, December 21, 1652
(Conductor: - )
Il Sole (the Sun) contralto
Il Crepuscolo (Twilight) tenor
Zelemina, Queen of the Moors soprano
Zaida, her nurse soprano
Delio, the General to King Alfonso contralto
Zeriffo, sailor and soldier to Delio tenor
Don Alfonso, King of Aragon contralto
Roldano, Delio's father bass
Don Buscone, the court jester tenor
Veremonda, Queen of Aragon soprano
Vespina, Veremonda's maid soprano
La Vendetta (Revenge) soprano
Amore (Love) soprano
Furore (Fury) contralto
Sergente Maggiore, sergeant major of Veremonda's amazon army bass/soprano
Giacutte, Captain of the Guard to Zelemina bass

Note: the Neapolitan libretto presents divergencies from the Venetian libretto including a different prologue (La Musica, La Poesia and L'Architettura) and an alternative name for Vespina (Callidia).

RevivalsEdit

The first performance since the mid-17th century was on 23 May 2015 for the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, USA. The conductor and musicologist Aaron Carpenè prepared the score from the manuscript conserved in the Marciana Library in Venice. The staging was by the Italian director Stefano Vizioli and the sets and costumes by the Italian contemporary artist Ugo Nespolo.

 
Delio molests Queen Veremonda to the amazement of Queen Zelemina and Zaida.

CastEdit

Veremonda Vivica Genaux
Delio Raffaele Pe
Zelemina Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli
Zaida Michael Maniaci
Re Alfonso/Sole Andrey Nemzer
Vespina Céline Ricci
Zeriffo/Crepuscolo Brian Downen
Don Buscone Steven Cole
Roldano Joseph Barron
Sergente Maggiore Danielle Talamantes
Giacutte Jason Budd

SynopsisEdit

The story takes place in Gibraltar during the siege of the Moorish fort of Calpe by the Spanish army. The atmosphere is set in the Prologue by Twilight exhorting the audience to enjoy the evening entertainments while the setting Sun warns the ladies that unlike dawn’s renewed beauty, their own splendour is destined to fade.

Queen Veremonda is perplexed at the continual delay of the assault on the enemy fortress. The motive, unknown to her, is that the young and handsome general of the Spanish army Delio is having a secret love affair with the Moorish queen Zelemina. The two lovers, with the help of their respective servants meet every night in the woods by the citadel Veremonda discovers the deceit and gathers around her the ladies of the court. She commands them to abandon petticoats and amorous pursuits and join her amazonian army. They are to be trained for battle against the enemy. Veremonda has two motives for assuming military command. Firstly she must react against her husband King Alfonso’s indifference to the task at hand. He is dedicated to the pursuit of scientific studies which keep him distracted from his military and conjugal duties. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the proud queen wants to oppose Delio who, having sworn loyalty to the Spanish crown, has defiantly betrayed his country through his treasonous affair with the enemy queen. Attired as a soldier and having convinced Delio to take her to study the citadel walls in order to understand how to attack them, Veremonda however has not reckoned with the darkness of the night and the remote forest that rouse the young general’s erotic appetite. While still in love with his fair Moorish queen, he is inflamed by the prospect of conquering his own queen through love or by force. Veremonda unconvincingly succeeds in delaying Delio’s pressing advances and urges him to enter into the fortress together thanks to a ring given to him by Zelemina that gives free access. Queen Zelemina joyously welcomes her lover but is also charmed by the graces of his young companion. Indeed, she considers ‘him’ more handsome and attractive than Delio. Despite the doubts of the lady-in-waiting Zaida who has guessed the true identity of Delio’s ‘friend’, the queen leaves the two youths to entertain themselves in the beautiful gardens of the citadel while she, her court and the army must leave to attend a religious celebration. During the Moors’ absence, Veremonda opens the door of the citadel to the Spanish army and her Amazons who, penetrating the enemy camp and encircling the fortress, conquer the enemy. The final scene celebrates the Spanish victory and the nuptial union between Delio and the converted Zelemina.

ReferencesEdit

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