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La Calisto

Approximate running time


A critical and commercial failure when first performed in Venice in 1651, this opera was left undiscovered until it was found and published by British conductor Raymond Leppard. Performed for the first time in the 20th century at the Glendebourne Festival in 1970, the opera has been reworked by Leppard and later composers to make it more accessible to modern audiences. The opera was only performed eleven times during its original run in Venice with the original score by Francesco Cavalli and libretto by Giovanni Faustini, also a producer, Faustini backed the performance until his death in the same year as the first performance.


Based on the myth of the nymph Calisto, this opera is presented in three acts and blends a number of myths regarding the nymph of the title and the God Jove. After being awarded a star in the heavens, Calisto attracts the attentions of Jove who decides to begin an affair with her. The nymph has promised the Goddess Diana that she will die a virgin, Jove disguises himself as Diana and then attracts the wrath of his wife who hears of his plan.

Act 1

La Calisto begins with the beauty of the nymph being discussed as she is awarded a star in the heavens. Giove and Mercurio are ensuring the world is safe when they discover Calisto complaining about the lack of drinking water, Giove is attracted to the nymph and provides a supply of water. Calisto reveals she is a follower of Giove's daughter Diana and will die a virgin, Mercurio and Giove decide that the God should disguise himself as Diana to attract the nymph. Diana appears with Endimione, who becomes jealous when Diana and Calisto share a kiss. Linfea and Silvano then try and revive Pan, who is unhappy at not being permitted to take his love for Diana any further.

Act 2

Diana and Endimione share a kiss at the beginning of act two and secretly declare their love for each other. It is soon revealed that the Diana who shared a kiss with Calisto is in fact Giove in disguise, his wife Giunone overhears her husband discussing Calisto and swears revenge on the nymph. Endimione finds Giove disguised as Diana and declares his love for her, Pan and Silvano overhear this and take Endimione captive in a fit of jealousy.

Act 3

Giove is now disguised as Diana and meets Calisto, but is shocked to find his wife is already there and has turned his lover into a bear. Diana, in the meantime rescues Endimione from Pan and decides to keep him as her lover in a state of eternal sleep. Unable to return Calisto to her rightful form, Giove declares his love for her and positions the stars of Ursa Major in her form of the bear.


Calisto, a Nymph, Soprano
Giove, a God, Bass
Diana, Giove's Daughter, Soprano
Giunone, Giove's Wife, Soprano
Pan, God of the Woods, Alto

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