Francesco Cavalli

La Calisto

La Calisto (1771)
Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676)

Dramma per musica in 1 prologue and 3 acts on a libretto by  Giovanni Faustini.
Premiered on the 28 November 1651 at the Teatro San Apollinare, in Venice.

Chen Reiss Calisto
Christophe Dumaux Endimione
Luca Tittoto Giove
Véronique Gens Giunone
Olga Bezsmertna Diana
Chiara Amarù Linfea
John Tessier La Natura, Pane
Markus Werba Mercurio
Damiana Mizzi Il Satirino
Luigi De Donato Silvano
Federica Guida Furia 1/ Eternità
Svetlina Stoyanova Furia 2/ Il Destino

Les Talens Lyriques
Orchestre du Teatro alla Scala
Christophe Rousset Direction
David McVicar Staging
Charles Edwards Setting
Doey Luthi Costumes
Adam Silverman Lightning
Jo Mederith Choréography
Rob Vale Video

A new production by Teatro alla Scala.

With the support of the Institut Français, the city of Paris and of Madame Aline Foriel-Destezet, major donor of Les Talens Lyriques’ anniversary season.

Almost a century before Handel’s Semele (1744) or Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Platée (1749), La Calisto (1651) by Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676) was one of the first operas to present the extravagant love affairs of that great womaniser of Olympus, Jupiter. On a visit to earth, the king of the gods sets eyes on the nymph Callisto and immediately falls in love with her. As a follower of Diana, sworn to chastity, she fiercely rejects the shameless seducer’s advances. He therefore resorts to a ruse, transforming himself in order to approach her into the figure of Diana, and she immediately succumbs to the charm of the person she sees as her beloved goddess. Subjected yet again to the infidelities of her spouse, Juno, enraged, takes revenge on the poor abused nymph by turning her into a bear. But in the end Jupiter places Callisto among the stars, immortalising her as the constellation of the Great Bear.

Premièred at the Teatro San Apollinare in Venice on 28 November 1651, this dramma per musicain a prologue and three acts, set to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, is a perfect example of a Venetian opera: two or three voices supported by a basso continuo,a flowing recitative, a discourse that moves seamlessly towards arioso in the dramatic climaxes of a plot based on a contrast between comic and serious elements. That mixture of genres is associated here with an extreme multiplicity of situations and characters. Tenderness, languor, misunderstandings, stupefaction, lust, betrayal, jealousy… from the chaste goddess to the priapic youth, from the husband who disguises himself as a goddess to the scorned wife… each element contributes to creating a multifaceted work that today stands as one of the great masterpieces in the history of opera.


« It’s both an unbelievable privilege and an immense honour to present this new version of Calisto, directed by David McVicar. It will be performed in Milan, on the mythical stage at La Scala, where few Baroque concerts have been staged with period instruments. We have assembled a beautiful group of voices for this program, one that’s worthy of such a prestigious theatre and the discerning Milanese audience. »

– Christophe Rousset