The opera Ifigenia in Aulide, written in 1738 by Giovanni Porta, was premiered during Carnival season in Munich, where he was working at the time. Because courts prided themselves on presenting only the newest works, it wasn’t revived, and was thought lost until the score turned up in Dresden. Celine Ricci, Artistic Director of the opera company Ars Minerva says they’ll be presenting two semi-staged performances this Friday and Saturday nights at the ODC Theater.
There’s more information about the performances at the Ars Minerva website
“It’s based on Euripides,” Ricci explains. “The Greeks are in Aulis, waiting for the wind to blow, because they are waiting to go to Troy for the battle. And Agamemnon is the king of the Greeks. To go on this battle, he has also Ulysses and he has Achilles. But the wind doesn’t blow, because Agamemnon has killed a deer. Artemis, the goddess, is very angy, because deers are sacred to her. And so she asks him to sacrifice his daughter, Ifigenia, and then they will be able to go to Troy and win the battle.” Two of the male leads (Agamemnon and Achilles) were, in the original production, sung by castrati, and will in this performance be sung by women, which makes for an interesting rebalancing of gender roles. “So the Royal family, Agamemnon, Klytemnestra, and Ifigenia are three women for us, and then Achilles, who has to marry Ifigenia is a woman too. So you have the four main characters who are women, which is very interesting in that plot… In a way, it’s a woman who is sacrificed for an army of men to succeed in Troy, so it’s another level, right, to add with those four women.” The composer, Giovanni Porta, was well traveled for a man of his day, following in Vivaldi’s footsteps in Venice, and being invited to London by Handel, who liked his music. He spent about 20 years working in Germany, and of about 30 operas he’s known to have written, only four or five remain.