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Cultural Responses to the Persian WarsAntiquity to the Third Millennium$
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Emma Bridges, Edith Hall, and P. J. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279678

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279678.001.0001

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Operatic Variations on an Episode at the Hellespont

Operatic Variations on an Episode at the Hellespont

(p.201) 10 Operatic Variations on an Episode at the Hellespont
Cultural Responses to the Persian Wars

David Kimbell

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the vogue in 17th- and 18th-century opera for dramatizing the episode of Xerxes at the Hellespont. Thus, one of the most important ways in which people were educated about the Persian Wars at this time was through the imaginative fictions sung by the stars of this hugely popular form of musical theatre. The chapter considers the reason for this trend, as well as the way in which transformations of the familiar story illustrate the changing tastes in adapting history to the exigencies of the operatic stage. The discussion centres on Minato's libretto Il Xerse as set by the leading Venetian composer Cavalli (1654), the remarkable Xerxes in Abydos by J. P. Förtsch (1688), who was a leading figure in the first German-language opera house at Hamburg, Bononcini's Xerse (1694), and Handel's Serse (1738).

Keywords:   Xerxes, Hellespont, Persian Wars, opera, Il Xerse, Cavalli, Xexes in Abydos, J. P. Förtsch, Bononcini, Handel

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