This week’s Arias in April broadcast features Simpson College Opera’s production of Cavalli’s La Calisto. It will air on Saturday, April 23 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 24 at 11:00 p.m.
First performed in 1651 in Venice, Italy, this early period opera features a mythical cast of Roman gods and characters. Giove (or Jupiter, in Roman mythology) descends from Mt. Olympus to repair the Earth after a cataclysmic event, and falls in love with Calisto, a nymph and virgin follower of Diana, the goddess of the hunt. Calisto rejects his advances, but Giove tricks her by taking the form of Diana and playing an “Innocent” game of kisses. The real Diana is secretly in love with a shepherd boy named Endimione, who secretly loves her. Giunone (or Juno) descends to Earth seeking her husband Giove, only to discover what has occurred between her husband and Calisto. In revenge, she turns Calisto into a bear. The Simpson College Opera is conducted by Bernard McDonald, Simpson’s Assistant Professor of Music, Larsen Chair of Opera, D & L Chair Opera, and Music Coach. Jennifer Williams Brown from Grinnell College was a scholar-in-residence for the performance, as well as dramaturg, musicologist, and coach for the production.