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Messalina (1679)

American modern world premiere by Ars Minerva in November 2021

Composed by Carlo Pallavicino, libretto by Francesco Marial Piccioli


Designed by


A sex farce with teeth. Clever, lecherous Messalina turns the tables several times on the gullible Emperor Claudius, who is hardly innocent himself. Meanwhile two other couples suffer their own romantic vicissitudes. Furtive assignations, frustrated trysts, kidnappings, betrayals, sudden recognitions, a heroine and a hero both in drag, and a plot as convoluted as only 17th-century Venetian opera can put together, all lead to a reconciliation that will last only as long as Messalina can keep pulling the wool over Claudius’ eyes.

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