La Calisto - Synopsis

La Calisto: Danielle de Niese La Calisto: Luca Tittoto, Karina Gauvin, Nikolay Borchev, Statisterie La Calisto: Nikolay Borchev, Danielle de Niese

La Calisto

Francesco Cavalli
Giovanni Faustini

 

Prologue

Destiny persuades Nature and Eternity that Calisto deserves a place among the stars in heaven.

 

Act One

The world is suffering the consequences of a war between mankind and the gods. Giove (Jupiter) and Mercurio (Mercury) are making sure that everything is as it should be on earth. Giove observes Calisto, a nymph, lamenting the lack of drinking water, for which she blames Giove. Charmed by the girl's beauty, Giove immediately replenishes a spring and makes improper advances to Calisto. She, however, belongs to the retinue of Diana, a daughter of Giove, and has proclaimed that she will die a virgin. In great indignation, Calisto rejects Giove's advances. Mercurio advises Giove to take on the form of Diana, to whose charms the unsuspecting Calisto will surely succumb. The plan succeeds: Calisto has no objection to accepting affectionate kisses from her beloved goddess.

Endimione (Endymion) is also in love with the chaste Diana. When she appears in the company of Linfea (Lynfea) and her nymphs, he can no longer hide his feelings and thus immediately incurs Linfea's anger. Diana also treats Endimione rather coldly, in order not to betray the fact that she is secretly in love with him. Calisto joins Diana and the nymphs, ecstatic at the pleasure she has experienced with the kisses she and "Diana" have just exchanged, which understandably causes some confusion in Diana. She accuses Calisto of being a shameless hussy and banishes her from her entourage.

Linfea admits to herself that she would also really like to have a lover. A little satyr - Satirino - offers himself as a solution to her problem. Together with Silvano (Sylvano), the god of the woods, he subsequently tries to give new heart to Pane (Pan), the god of the shepherds, who is suffering from the throes of unrequited passion for Diana.

 

Act Two

Endimione wants to be near Diana and sees her in the form of the moon. When he has fallen asleep, Diana can no longer withstand her feelings for him. She kisses Endimione, who immediately awakes and finds that reality is as attractive as his dream, he has achieved his heart's desire. Satirino, who has observed the scene without being noticed, now voices his own opinion on the constancy of women.

Giove's jealous consort Giunone (Juno) suspects that her husband's visit to earth is not only the result of his concern for the ravishes wrought by war and now decides in her turn to pay earth a visit. She immediately comes across Calisto, who in her despair innocently tells her how Diana was at first so loving and then so cold and cruel towards her for no apparent reason. Giunone knows her husband well enough to suspect immediately what has actually happened. Her suspicions are confirmed when Giove, in the form of Diana, comes into view with Mercurio and arranges another assignation with Calisto. Giunone angrily swears to be revenged on her rival, Calisto.

Before Giove, still in the form of Diana, can disappear for his rendezvous with Calisto, Endimione returns. Believing that it is Diana whom he has come upon, Endimione chats in lovesick fashion about the kisses he has exchanged with the goddess the previous night, thus revealing to Giove that Diana is perhaps not as chaste as he has been led to believe. Pane, Silvano and Satirino are also taken in by Giove's disguise: convinced that they have caught Diana with her lover, they take Endimione prisoner and threaten to kill him. Mercurio urges Giove to have nothing to do with the whole affair and to disappear. Endimione has no choice but to think that Diana has heartlessly abandoned him to his plight and loses all will to live. Linfea, on the other hand, is now determined to go to any lengths in her urgent search for a lover.

 

Act Three

Calisto waits expectantly for "Diana" at the appointed time. In her place Giunone appears with furies and turns Calisto into a bear. In this form, she believes, her rival will no longer be quite so attractive in Giove's eyes.  Giove, however, is determined to raise Calisto to divine status. He cannot, in fact, turn the clock back and restore Calisto to her original form, but he promises that when her life on earth as a bear comes to an end she will have a place among the stars in the firmament.

In the meantime the real Diana rescues Endimione from the hands of Pane and Silvano, who see this as a confirmation of their opinion of her as someone who appears chaste but who is in reality obviously sensual through and through. Diana decides that she will keep Endimione as her lover, in eternal sleep in the mountains.

In order to give Calisto some idea of her future glory, Giove shows her the firmament in all its magnificence, where her place in the constellation of Ursa Major is secure. But that time has not yet come; Giove and Calisto say farewell to each other. Calisto has to return to earth as a bear. 

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