|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, April 30, 1728|
(Conductor: - )
|Tolomeo, former ruler of Egypt||alto castrato||Senesino|
|Seleuce, wife of Tolomeo||soprano||Francesca Cuzzoni|
|Elisa, sister of Araspe||soprano||Faustina Bordoni|
|Alessandro, brother of Tolomeo||alto castrato||Antonio Baldi|
|Araspe, King of Cyprus||bass||Giuseppe Maria Boschi|
We are then introduced to Seleuce who is also going under an alias, "Delia". She sings of her dispossession then sees Tolomeo on the shore, but runs away when Araspe arrives. He is furious at Seleuce, who he himself pursues with amorous intent. Act one closes with Tolomeo visualising his wife, wishing that she could appear before him and ease his pain.
Tolomeo reiterates that he cannot love Elisa and she rages at this. Tolomeo leaves and Alessandro enters, reiterating his love for Elisa. Elisa claims that the only way she can love him in return is if he murders his brother. Seleuce sings another lament and Tolomeo echoes her words in the background. Araspe bursts onto the scene and tries to rape Seleuce. Tolomeo can't bare the sight and rushes to defend his wife. He reveals their true identities, and Araspe (the baritone) sings ruggedly of how he will punish the lovers. The couple are left alone at the end of act two and touchingly sing synchronised for the first time of how their love for one another will doom them both.
Elisa forces Seleuce to cede Tolomeo to her, saying he'll die otherwise. Tolomeo rejects Elisa once more. She says if he is so brave and intent on rejecting her, then he should drink some poison. This he does. He describes the effect the poison is having, and then, apparently, dies. Alessandro comes to the desperate Seleuce in the remotest part of the wood and promises to reunite her with Tolomeo. Araspe triumphanly reveals the body of Tolomeo to Alessandro. He is sure that Seleuce is his but Elisa reveals the potion was actually a sleeping draught and she will torture Seleuce and put her to death. At this point Tolomeo wakes up and Alessandro presents Seleuce to him. Husband and wife are reunited. The opera ends with a joyous quartet expounding that when suffering turns into joy, all can be forgiven.
Arguably by far the most sympathetic character is Seleuce. One imagines the plaintive song of a pastoral Nymph who has lost her lover, a radiant youth. Especially when she is alone on the beach and dejected she holds notes that bring a tear to the eye, quite literally. Her line is always lovely, pure and devoted like the virtuous woman she is.
Araspe has forceful music and is bullish.
The opera is not generally considered to be a masterpiece in the way Alcina and Giulio Cesare are, but it is certainly worthy of comparison -- and nearly equally as poignant, despite a somewhat unlikely plot.
The Life and Works of Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca)/ The Worldview and Thought of Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemey of Lucca)
Jul 01, 2011; The Life and Works of Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca). By James M. Blythe. [Disputado, Vol. 16.] (Turnhout: Brepols....